Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nicholas R. Walsh dies 'from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations'

Before Nick Walsh re-enlisted in the Marines for a second tour of duty, he married a Millstadt resident in a ceremony at Morgan Street Brewery on Laclede's Landing.

Julie (Kilgore) Walsh is a 1997 graduate of Belleville West High School. Her husband spent part of his childhood in Idaho and graduated from a high school in Fort Collins, Colo., before ending up in the Metro East area with Julie, said Ken Nettleton, her uncle.

The couple had met in North Carolina and lived in Belleville, Swansea and Millstadt from 2002 until their wedding in April 2004. Shortly after the ceremony, they moved to Camp Pendleton, Calif. That's where Julie lives with the couple's sons, 4-year-old Triston and baby Tanner, and where she was when she learned that her husband had been killed serving his country.

Marine Sgt. Nick Walsh, 26, was killed Saturday in combat in the Anbar province in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense. He had been assigned to the 1st Marine Division's 1st Reconnaissance Battalion based out of Camp Pendleton.

Nick Walsh had served four years in the Marines before moving to St. Clair County with his wife, Nettleton said. He attended Southwestern Illinois College, Nettleton said. But he missed the Marines, so he re-enlisted three years ago.

"He liked the discipline and the code, and the camaraderie," said Nettleton, of Swansea.

Nettleton wasn't sure of the details of Walsh's first tour of duty in Iraq, but he knew Walsh left about two months ago for his second tour. His death came in what the Associated Press said has been third-deadliest month for American forces in Iraq since the war began four years ago. As of late Tuesday, there were at least 113 U.S. deaths in Iraq so far in May, the news service said.

Nettleton said a funeral Mass is planned for Saturday in Fort Collins.

Nick Walsh never told his family what he did in Iraq, but they knew he worked on reconnaissance missions, Nettleton said.

"We had no idea where he was," Nettleton said.

He also said that Nick Walsh was proud to be a Marine and felt strongly about what he was doing.

"It was something he believed in," Nettleton said. "It was something that he thought had a purpose."

From the Post-Dispatch