Saturday, February 03, 2007

Michael Kashkoush laid to rest

Marwan Kashkoush marshaled joy, love, grief and humor Friday morning as he prepared to bury his only son in Chagrin Falls.

Michael McClaren Kashkoush, a Marine sergeant, died in Iraq 10 days before - a mere 10 days after arriving there.

The military has released few details of his life or death in the service, except to say that he enlisted four years ago, made sergeant by mid-2005, learned Arabic at the Defense Language School in California and worked in counterintelligence.

The broad brush strokes of his short and remarkable life were left to be applied by his father, before a capacity crowd of more than 600 at St. Joan of Arc Church in Chagrin Falls.

One story stood out as a description of the young man's selfless courage and passion for life.

Kashkoush joked that his Chagrin Falls house was called Party Central. "It was my house, but it was really Michael's house, Michael's car and Michael's liquor," he said.

His son gave a party that turned raucous and drew the police. The revelers fled the house, disappearing down a steep bank that led down to the Chagrin River.

His son went out to talk to the police. He said he was the only one drinking, or making noise. "He got busted and took the fall for his friends," his father said.

In time, he tried college here and in Texas, then told his dad "College is not for me."

"Dad, I've had a soft life," his father recalled. "I've always admired the Marines. They're the toughest and the most disciplined and that's what I need."

Kashkoush wanted his son to finish college first, then join up and become an officer.

"I've got to be a grunt first," he told his father.

Kashkoush described the Marine Corps' impact.

"They built," he said, pausing as his voice choked with emotion. "They built my best friend.

"And for that I thank the Marine Corps for what they did."

The young sergeant's mother and stepmother also spoke at the funeral, along with a cousin and three friends.

The service was blending of families by many definitions.

This included family and friends who came all the way from Okinawa, Japan; Ireland; and Jordan, said Dwight Milko, a Chagrin Falls councilman who also spoke.

Parker Hannifin employees and managers also were there in force, as yet another form of extended family. Marwan Kashkoush is an executive at the global Cleveland-based manufacturer.

After the burial, Parker Hannifin CEO Don Washkewicz spoke with warmth and knowledge about the fallen Marine. He said that despite Michael Kashkoush's Middle Eastern roots, he had no knowledge of Arabic but wanted to learn it. He seized the opportunity in the service.

Master Sgt. Arthur Rodriguez, one of four Marines from Kashkoush's Okinawa-based unit, said the young man's job was to gather information through contact with the local population, which would be analyzed and passed to infantry commanders.

The Marines speak of each other and their own relatives as another sort of family. The corps' reserve unit in Brook Park furnished an honor guard that carried the casket and fired a rifle-volley salute. Others tended the Kashkoush family and made sure they were not harassed by the news media.

Then there was the Chagrin Falls community. Some made it to the church. Many followed the hearse on foot from the funeral home to the cemetery a half-mile away. And many more lined the route, stomping and clapping away the cold as they held small American flags and hand-lettered signs.

There, in the village where Michael Kashkoush graduated from high school in 2001, he will remain.

From the Plain Dealer

Related Link:
Michael M. Kashkoush slain by sniper