Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Nick Walsh has services ahead of cremation

Friends and family said their last goodbyes to Marine Sgt. Nicholas R. Walsh at a Saturday morning service for the fallen soldier at St. Joseph Catholic Church.

Walsh, 26, died in Fallujah, Iraq, on May 26 as a result of sniper fire. He was a team leader with Charlie Company, 1st Platoon, 1st Marine Division, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.

His parents, Jerry and Maggie Walsh, are Fort Collins residents.

He leaves behind a wife, Julie, and sons Triston, 4, and Tanner, 4 months old.

About 200 people lined the streets and held American flags when Walsh's casket, draped in an American flag, arrived.

Friends and family attended the funeral inside St. Joseph's.

Through tears, Walsh's best friend, Ben Pollmeier, also a Marine, told of Walsh's abilities as a leader. Pollmeier served with Walsh during his first tour in Iraq.

"The thing about Nick was, whether it came to work in Iraq or at home, the traits he had were those of a loving, comforting leader. He went head-on into being a leader, a husband, a father," he said. "For me and for all of us, he was the professional, the level head. He was our big brother, a mentor, a mediator.”

Ian Walsh, the fallen Marine’s brother, told the gathering that he didn’t begin thinking of his brother as a hero after his death in Iraq.

“Nick was my hero long before that,” he said. “He was my hero when he took me for walks in Montana when I was learning how to walk; he was my hero just because he was my big brother and he spent time with me.”

Walsh’s last conversation with his youngest brother, Flynn Walsh, was a memorable pep talk. Flynn Walsh told the congregation about receiving strength from Nick’s advice.
“I told him I was scared about passing my lifeguard test,” Flynn Walsh said.

Nick Walsh told his brother not to think of the negative, but to go full force into whatever he needed to accomplish.

“He told me, ‘Just do it,’” Flynn Walsh said. “He said, ‘You don’t think about not being able to do it, you think positively and you just do it.’”

Flynn Walsh said those his brother left behind should follow those words when dealing with his brother’s death.

The Rev. Roger Lascelle of St. Joseph’s led the service, which was attended by Gov. Bill Ritter, state Rep. John Kefalas, Colorado State University President Larry Penley and former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer.

“Our learning of his (Nick’s) death, our viewing of his body still feels like a horrible dream,” Lascelle said.

Walsh was born June 17, 1980, in McDonough, Ga., to Gerald “Jerry” Walsh and Donna Richie Walsh. The couple divorced and Jerry married Maggie Walsh when Nick was 5 years old.

He graduated from John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham, Ala., where he played football and was on the track team.

He enjoyed working on cars with his dad, skiing and snowboarding.

Following the funeral Mass, mourners — many of whom were Marines that Walsh served with during his first tour in Iraq — congregated outside the church for final military ceremonies. An announcement was made that President George W. Bush had earlier in the week awarded Walsh the Purple Heart for bravery.

After a 21-gun salute, Walsh’s fellow Marines reverently folded the American flag that had draped his casket and presented it to his wife. Clutching the flag to her heart and with tears in her eyes, she asked that the casket be opened for her last goodbye to her husband.

Walsh was to be cremated following the services.

As the bagpipes played the Marine hymn and “Amazing Grace,” his body was slowly driven away.

From the Coloradan

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