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Maryland Marine Remembered as Devoted to the Corps

By Elizabeth A. Weiss
Capital News Service
Thursday, Feb. 3, 2005

DUNDALK - Marine Lance Cpl. Michael L. Starr Jr. was remembered Thursday by family, friends, and fellow servicemen as a boy who grew into a man before they knew it, a man who lived life doing exactly what he had dreamed.

"When Michael was 17, he fell in love, but not with a girl -- with the Marines," said Robin Starr of her son, who was killed Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash in bad weather in Iraq.

The crash of the CH-53E Super Stallion transport helicopter killed 30 Marines, including Starr, and a sailor who were conducting security and stability operations in preparation for last weekend's elections. A Marine Corps spokesman said the cause of the crash near Ruthbah in western Iraq is still under investigation.

At a packed service Thursday at the Duda-Ruck Funeral Home in Dundalk, friends and family stood to offer tearful memories of the young man from Edgemere who skipped his graduation from Perry Hall High School so he could get into the Marine Corps sooner.

Robin Starr, of Marriottsville, worried about her son being in the Marines, because she knew they were often on the front lines. He told her he needed the brotherhood and the self-discipline of the service in his life.

Starr said she was not a big crier, but deserved to cry for her son, who was torn between missing his family and his love of the Marines.

"He was really in love with everything," she said.

Starr's father, Michael Sr., and stepmother, Linda Starr, stood next to the flag-covered casket, where the dad said how special a person his son was and how many memories he has of Michael Jr.

"Thank you for letting me be your Dad," he said to the casket, through choking sobs.

Other speakers recalled the little boy who ate waterbugs, or who caught fireflies with other children and was disappointed when they had to release them. A cousin brought some laughter when he told of the time he and Starr dressed up in girls' bathing suits and ran down the middle of the road, and suggested that everyone try it at least once.

The Baltimore Police Honor Guard paid a tribute to Starr and his family through an achingly slow salute to both the grieving relatives and to the flag-covered casket, and his Purple Heart was presented at the service.

Michael S. Betts of the Marine Corps League of Elkridge told Starr's family that the soldier is now stationed in the Marine guard detachment in heaven and they will see him again.

"I'm here because we lost a brother," Betts said. "Marines may get killed, but they don't die."

Starr left for Marine training in May 2001 and was stationed in Hawaii when he was posted to Iraq in August 2004. With the service, he also traveled to Okinawa, Australia and other places, places that family members said they talked about visiting when he was home from duty.

Starr's sister, Jennifer, 22, thanked the Marines for being "a rock" for her family. Those who say her brother's life was left incomplete are wrong, she said: Mike may have died young but he lived a fulfilled life, saw beautiful countries, and had a loving home and family.


Copyright 2005 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism

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