CHELSEA, MI, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, WPNS CO, 1ST BN, 6TH MAR, (1-1 AD, I MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC AR RAMADI, IRAQ 10/21/2006
Lance Corporal Cliff Collinsworth was so eager to be a Marine two years ago that he left for boot camp just days after graduating from Chelsea High School.
The 20-year-old high-honors graduate was killed Saturday during his second tour of duty in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded near the Humvee he was riding in near Ramadi, according to his family. Three other Marines were also killed in the attack, including another Michigan soldier.
Collinsworth was an eager Marine who loved his job, according to sister Melissa Collinsworth, 22. He would bound around and shout “hoo-rah,” the military rallying cry for strength, confidence and morale, or “Semper Fi,” the Marine Corps motto that means “always faithful” in Latin.
“He wanted to be a Marine for a long time, and it was a great thing for him,” she said. “I think he wanted to serve his country, then he wanted to go to college later and be a history teacher.”
Collinsworth wrestled and played football. He took meticulous care of his 2004 forest-green Chevrolet Blazer.
At the State Farm Insurance agency in downtown Chelsea, photos of locals serving in the military since Sept. 11, 2001, have become a fixture. Monday afternoon, Collinsworth’s photo was mounted and moved to the side as a memorial to him.
He was the second soldier from Chelsea to be killed in the Iraq war.
Kerry Kargel, Chelsea High’s wrestling coach, also worked with the middle-school football team and met Collinsworth as a young player. He always wanted to get out there and play, Kargel said. Once he reached high school, he joined the wrestling team in hopes of improving his football.
“He would always ask me, ‘Will it make me tougher, coach, will it make me tougher?'” he said.
Collinsworth had returned to Iraq for a second tour Sept. 7 after six months stateside, his sister said.
The other Marines killed in Saturday’s attack were identified by the Defense Department as Lance Corporal Nicholas J. Manoukian, 22, of Lathrup Village; Lance Corporal Nathan R. Elrod, 20, of Salisbury, N.C.; and Corporal Joshua C. Watkins, 25, of Jacksonville, Fla.
“He was a hard worker, he had a great work ethic,” Collingsworth’s sister Melissa said. “He was devoted, he took everything seriously. He was proud of himself, his fellow Marines and his country. He died a very honorable death. He gave them all he could give them.”