USS Makin Island
“Gung Ho”
11th MEU Honors Fallen Corpsman with Memorial Service
By Capt. Roger Hollenbeck, 11th MEU Public Affairs
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Sailors deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) celebrated the life and service of Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kyler L. Estrada during a memorial service on board the ship, Feb. 17.

Estrada, a Fleet Marine Force Sailor who was assigned to India Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/1, was killed during a training accident in Djibouti, Feb. 14.

More than 700 Marines and Sailors crowded into the ship's hangar bay to take part in the service.

"Doc died in the company of his brothers, brothers who trained and sweat with him, brothers who rushed to his side and would not give up on him after he fell," said Capt. Matthew McGirr, commanding officer of India Company, BLT 3/1, during the memorial service.

McGirr also thanked everyone in the hangar for being at the service.

"We will honor Doc by keeping faith in him in the manner that we have honored every single Marine and doc that has lived, trained, fought and died next to us and underneath our guidon. We are going to pick up our swords; we are going to lock our shields together, and we are going to step forward, together as one."

Several Marines who served alongside Estrada spoke during the ceremony.

"From my time in the Marine Corps, I have come to realize there are two types of docs," said Cpl. David Zochol, one of Estrada's squad mates. "The first is a corpsman in a Marine uniform; the second is a Marine in a corpsman uniform. All those that knew Doc Estrada would agree that he was the latter."

Zochol said that the loss will be felt in India Company for a long time.

"No matter how terrible and long-lasting the pain, it pales in comparison to the pain felt by his wife and family back home," said Zochol.

Lt. Cmdr. Jon Conroe, chaplain for the 11th MEU, described Estrada as a young man full of life and humor and devotion to his family, to his fellow Sailors and Marines, to his country and to his God.

"Doc Estrada's presence in our life was truly a gift - a gift with which we will be forever blessed," said Conroe.

A detail of seven Marines who served with Estrada fired rifle volleys in his honor, and a Navy bugler sounded taps to conclude the formal portion of the ceremony. Marines and Sailors were then allowed to pay their personal respects.

Prior to his death, Estrada had summed up his job on his personal Facebook page as to simply "Fix broken Marines." The eulogies from his squad mates attested to his skill in doing just that.

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