Lakeland, FL, US U.S. Marine Corps CPL, B CO, 2D LAR BN, (BLT 1/6, 22D MEU), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC 05/08/2004, KANDAHAR, Afghanistan
Marine Corporal Ron Payne was born in Lakeland, Florida Dec. 31, 1980.
“He had to be a Marine,” recalled Guy Howard, Payne’s former Sunday school teacher and a former Marine – just like Payne’s father, grandfather and three uncles all were. “He wanted to serve and do what he could do.”
“If I know Ron, he gave the last full measure,” said his father, Ronnie Payne. “And I am proud of that boy beyond words.”
Payne had been part of the initial force that invaded Iraq and went to Baghdad. He came home a different person but a determined one. He treasured his friends and men in the Marines and would do anything for them. After the first tour ended, Payne volunteered to return to combat and was humble about his service, said his stepmother, Aileen Payne.” He was where he wanted to be,” she said.
The reconnaissance scout and infantryman initially was sent to Afghanistan to help with the country’s elections, but the mission changed when elections were postponed. He was sent into combat and became the first Marine killed serving in Afghanistan.
A part of Ron that was well known to those who loved and knew him was that he was a Christian. He was saved at a young age and attended Calvary Baptist Church in Lakeland, FL. Ron kept his Lord close to his heart whether that be here in the states, on a ship at sea, or far away in the desert of Afghanistan. Ron was known on ship for recruiting other Marines to a Bible study another friend was organizing. He shared his faith with all who knew him and relied on this faith to get him through his darkest moments.
One of Ron’s later entries in his journal marked March 15, 2004 was as follows:
The fear is starting to turn into excitement. Besides what do I have to be afraid of really. I have God on my side, and He said He will never leave us nor forsake us. Having Him is better than any type of support or weapon that man can give.
Ron was known to his friends as Pappa P. This is the best description of Ron because he always made a point to look out for those around him, right until his last breath. In Ron’s own words, “The real heroes are those who do not come home. Remember that freedom is not free. It is paid in blood.”
A letter from LTCL Asad Khan. Payne’s CO stated that “The 6-foot-7 Payne was a “hero” and a “giant among Marines.”
“He was a loving child. There was never a time I wasn’t proud of him,” said Kathy Seymour, his mother. “He was the joy of my life and I can’t believe I will never hear his voice again or his laugh again.”
Ron strove to be a “Simple Man,” but to all who knew him he needed not strive to far because he truly was a Simple Man of Faith