A Marine who enlisted right after his graduation from John Carroll Catholic High School in 1998 was remembered for his desire to make a difference in Iraq, where he was on his second tour of duty when killed by a sniper.
Marine Sgt. Nicholas Walsh, 26, was shot May 26 in Fallujah while out on a patrol.
“He wanted to be there. He felt like he was doing something good,” said his mother, Maggie Hall Walsh. “He used to tell me that nobody talks of the good things going on there, but he saw it in the faces of the people — in their waves and their smiles. He was prepared, he was ready to go, he knew the stakes,” she said. “He was a proud Marine.”
Walsh is the son of Jerry Walsh, a former INS special agent in Birmingham, and former Birmingham News reporter Maggie Hall Walsh, who raised Walsh since she married his father when he was five years old. They now live in Fort Collins, Colo. Nicholas Walsh’s wife, Julie, told The Birmingham News on May 28 that he called her shortly before he was shot. She said it was not the time he usually called, and that he explained: “I just woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep and felt like I needed to call you.” In some strange way,” Julie Walsh said, “someone was trying to give me that last goodbye. He died a couple of hours later.”
“I’m just really going to miss him,” she said. “He was a really good husband, and really good dad. He went above and beyond trying to help everybody.”
The couple have two sons, Triston, 4, and Tanner, 7 months. Walsh’s grandfather, Walter R. Walsh, who lives in Birmingham and just celebrated his 100th birthday, was also a Marine, as were two of Walsh’s cousins and an uncle. Walsh, who joined the Marines right out of high school, served four years, was out of the service for two years, then re-enlisted. He finished his first tour in Iraq in March 2006.
Jerry Walsh went to Dover, Del., on May 28 to escort his son’s body to Colorado. A funeral Mass is to be held later in the week.
“He was a nice kid that turned into a great man,” Maggie Walsh said. “The biggest thing I want people to know is these kids — and they are kids — they’re not just numbers. They’re somebody’s son, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s husband or wife. They are people who are just doing what they think is right.”