BRADENTON, FL, USA
PFC, 2D BN, 4TH MAR, 1ST MAR DIV, CAMP PENDLETON, CA
AL ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ 04/06/2004
Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday to remember a Marine killed in an intense gunfight with Iraqi insurgents.
Private First Class Christopher R. Cobb was buried with full military honors. He turned 19 on New Year’s Day and was in Iraq a month later. One of eight Marines killed April 6, Cobb was a “joyful happy kid,” said his mother, Sheila Cobb. He wanted to become an officer, she said.
More than 500 people packed the sanctuary at Bradenton Gospel Tabernacle church to pay their last respects. Men and women dressed in military uniforms lined wooden pews near men clad in leather motorcycle jackets with Vietnam Brotherhood patches.
Members of Cobb’s high school orchestra, his high school principal and classmates, still immersed in the world he left behind at Bayshore High School, gathered with family members at the church where Cobb was baptized as a child.
A picture of Cobb in his dress blue uniform, shown on a projection television, loomed over the crowd. Other photos near the casket spanned the life of the Marine, from the playpen to the prom, from a sheepish kid with a violin to a soldier with an M-16.
Flanked by relatives, his mother cried quietly. Others filed to the pulpit to pay homage to her son, a member of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Even as they mourned him, friends and family members recalled Cobb’s quiet confidence and intensity since joining the Marines last year. In her eulogy, Pam Morris recounted telling her nephew he’d grown taller while he was away at boot camp.
“He said, ‘No, I’m just standing straighter.”‘
The last time Sheila Cobb heard from her son, he was about 20 miles from Fallujah, where an organized insurgency against coalition forces began over the weekend.
“He called from a satellite phone and said, ‘Mom, I’m going to try and call you once a week.’ But I didn’t hear nothing all week from him, at all,” Cobb told WFLA-TV in Tampa.
Christopher Cobb graduated from Bayshore High School in May and joined the Marines in June.
While she waited for her son’s return, Sheila Cobb made ribbon badges for other military mothers.
She told the Bradenton Herald earlier this year that she had to come to terms with the idea that her son might be sent to Iraq, but thought his young age and little time in the service might have spared him from going to war.
“I really didn’t think they were going to send him over there,” she said. “But I support him, and I understand that he’s got to do what he’s got to do to defend his country.”