WASHINGTON, LA, USA U.S. Marines CPL, 3D PLT, A CO, 4TH AA BN, (RCT-2, 2D MAR DIV), 4TH MAR DIV, GULFPORT, MS BARWANAH, IRAQ 08/03/2005
When he was about three years old, David S. “Bear” Stewart spray-painted his mother’s light blue Thunderbird dark green and his parents knew they were “in for a rocky road.” That road turned out to be short and sweet.
Stewart, 24, of Bogalusa, Louisiana, was among 14 Marines killed on August 3, 2005 when their amphibious assault vehicle was hit by an explosive during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. He was assigned to Company A, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division based at Gulfport, Mississippi.
Stewart was widely known as a “wild child” who many remember with a twinkle in their eyes and a chuckle. Friends describe him as “all boy” in his early days.
Stewart attended several high schools but dropped out and got a GED. After working local odd jobs for a few years after high school, he made the choice to join the Marines in 2001.
In 2003, Stewart was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for Valor after he risked his life while his amphibious track vehicle was under attack. The weapon jammed and Stewart climbed to the top turret to repair it while under fire. His actions rescued a squad of Marines that had been pinned down by sniper fire, resulting in the killing of the sniper and the completion of the mission.
Bear was known to stand up for his fellow Marines. Once, when teased for being “nasty reservists” by an active duty Marine unit that had not yet been deployed to Iraq, Corporal Stewart responded by saying “Hey buddy, we might be reservists, but at least we have a combat action ribbon. Where’s yours?”
His dear friend and fellow Marine, Corporal Matt Cole wrote of him: “Bear was a man who loved his family dearly, a child of God who was loved by all who knew him. He would give the shirt off his back to a stranger and had no fear of giving his life for this country and the people he loved so much”. He was described by his superiors as “a Marine’s Marine,” and his legacy of leadership and knowledge still resonates today with his unit.
His generous heart and gratitude were revealed in his work with Toys for Tots and his visitation to war veterans at the VA hospital.
After his death, the citizens of Washington Parish donated time, money and resources to build a monument to memorialize Stewart and other veterans from the parish who made the ultimate sacrifice. “We wanted to do something to show our appreciation to the veterans of Washington Parish and to express what Bear meant to us,” said Fred Grages, Washington Parish director of finance. “I think we did that with these outstanding monuments.”
Corporal Stewart is survived by his parents, Sandra and Joey.