Riverview, Michigan, US
United States Marine Corps
CPL, 2/6 Fox Co
Kirkuk, Iraq, 03/04/2009
A U.S. Marine reservist, working in Iraq for a private defense contractor, died early this month. Justin Pope, 25, of Commerce Township died March 5 in Irbil in northern Iraq. He was an employee of the Falls Church, Va.-based DynCorp International and was working under the company’s World Wide Protective Services contract with the U.S. State Department. His job involved protecting U.S. diplomats. Justin, 25, was a brother to five siblings, a father to an 8 year-old boy Gabriel, and a husband.
Southfield television station WJBK says Pope had served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and was assigned to protect U.S. diplomats in Kirkuk when he was killed by sniper fire.
Friday night, he was remembered as a kind and brave man who wanted to serve his country. A crowd of more than 100 people gathered to celebrate his life. The Riverview police and fire departments also joined the vigil. It was an evening of prayers, candles and crying.
“Ever since he was twelve years old, his dream was to become a Marine and serve his country and he did complete his dream,” said brother Kevin Pope.
“Everybody loved Justin. A lot of people idolized him and we’re going to miss him. He’s a fighter for freedom and a fighter for God. Now, he’s a fighter with God,” Pope said.
At the vigil, family members and friends shared stories about Justin Pope. They called him a spontaneous jokester who could crack up an entire room with laughter. His brother and father shared an emotional moment. Justin told them his group found a special needs child chained to a wall. He said they freed the child and then re-united him with his family.
Justin also told his family many Americans would not believe what terrorists are doing to innocent people in Iraq.