PALM CITY, FL, US
U.S. Marine Corps
LCPL, 3/10, RCT-7, MEB-A (PARENT CMND: 2D MARDIV)
08/30/2010, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Justin Wilson was the kid who duct-taped his cousin to the dryer and stuffed his brother into a washing machine.
His uncle, Ed Forte, said Wilson also loved graffiti art, which was prominently displayed — “on what he thought was his personal gallery, that gallery being the many walls in Commack, Long Island, where he grew up.”
But Wilson also was the kid who watched a television documentary on the Marine Corps as he waited for Hurricane Frances to pass over in 2004. “That is what I want to be,” Forte recalled him saying. He joined in January 2009.
Wilson always had to be first, cousin Donna Forte said. “He was the first in the family to get married. The first to be a Marine. He had to be the best,” Forte said.
Wilson joined the Marine Corps in January 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan 10 months later. Promoted to lance corporal earlier this month, Wilson was a motor vehicle operator assigned to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan.
Justin’s assignment was driving a 7-ton armored truck with a machine gun on top. But recently, Justin had been doing foot patrol. He was killed by an improvised explosive device, said his father. “I was so proud of him. He had commitment, honor, respect,” Lance said.
Standing across from the Wilson home Wednesday, Dale Davant, a 78-year-old Korean war veteran, said he encouraged Wilson to join the Marines while delivering equipment for an ice skating show to Tampa.
“By the time we got back from Tampa he made up his mind that’s what he was going to do, and I encouraged him to do that,” said Davant, who served in the Marines. “He was considering joining before that trip, but I think that trip kind of sealed it.”
Davant said Wilson changed significantly when he completed boot camp. “He had a whole different attitude,” Davant said. “He was a good Marine.” Davant said he talked to Wilson’s family on Tuesday and said they’re in shock.
“If we lose anybody it’s sad, but then I’m having trouble with I encouraged him to join, so I know I’m not supposed to feel that way, but I do,” Davant said.
Justin and Hannah McVeigh were married by a justice of the peace in North Carolina on Oct. 30. They planned a big family wedding in Palm City after he returned from Afghanistan.
“He met Hannah, the girl of his dreams. After he and Hannah married, he was deployed the next day,” Forte said. “He was a tough guy on the outside. But inside, he was a softy.”
Handing out candy to children in Afghanistan was one part of the deployment his son enjoyed, Lance said. The Marines had recently helped rebuild a school in Justin’s area.
“Justin believed in what he was doing. He told me him and other Marines would use candy from their packages from home and give to the children,” the father said.
Wilson’s awards include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Purple Heart.