Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Clay

27, of Pensacola, Florida.
Clay died from an improvised explosive device outside Fallujah, Iraq. He was inside an abandoned flour factory being used as a patrol base when the IED detonated. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, his unit was attached to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, California. Died on December 1, 2005.

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"It's Memorial Day 2023. You are still not forgotten brother. I think of you every year on this day and the times we spent as Combat Weapons Instructors at Security Forces. I hope heaven is all that you knew it would be and because of our shared faith in Christ, I know I'll see you again. Cpl. Steve Patrick, Paris, Ohio."

"Another Memorial Day and I honor your memory. Looking forward to seeing you again little brother."
Scott Baker of Ohio

"Danny, it's been 18 years this year since you left us but your memory still lives on. We met at 8th & I in 1996 as brand new Marines and went on to be stationed in K-Bay, Hawaii together. I was with 2/3 Echo Co. and you were with 1/3 Golf Co. and because of that 1 party I got my first NJP...lol. Damn brother do I miss ya and often think of you and the sacrifice you made for this great country on Dec. 1st 2005. Me and all the guys miss you brother and will never forget what a great man you were. Love you brother, Semper Fi."
Pete Klassen of Portage, Indiana USA

"Danny, it's been 18 years this year since you left us but your memory still lives on. We met at 8th & I in 1996 as brand new Marines and went on to be stationed in K-Bay, Hawaii together. I was with 2/3 Echo Co. and you were with 1/3 Golf Co. and because of that 1 party I got my first NJP...lol. Damn brother do I miss ya and often think of you and the sacrifice you made for this great country on Dec. 1st 2005. Me and all the guys miss you brother and will never forget what a great man you were. Love and miss you brother, Semper Fi."
Pete Klassen of Portage, Indiana USA

"Thinking of you today. I gave a speech last week to my brothers’ in Christ. I honored our friendship and how much I miss you. Seems like yesterday we were laughing and prepping for our deployment and here it’s been 17 yrs. I love you."
SgtMaj Scott Baker USMC RETIRED of Cleveland

"I miss you Brother.

Gunny V"

"Memorial Day 2016.

Another year past and your memory is still fresh in my mind. I think of you often and I honor your sacrifice you made for our great Nation. I know you are dancing with Jesus and waiting for all of to join you. I love and miss you little brother. God Bless."
Scott Baker, USMC of North ridgeville Ohio

"Memorial Day 2014.


You're a huge reason I joined the service. You were always a tremendously generous friend who always encouraged me to be more than I was. Every year on Memorial Day, I make it a point to remember you. This year, I will visit you in Arlington and then, as I'm sure you'd want, I'm going to drink a Guiness in your honor. Miss you bro.

Chief Petty Officer Ben Midkiff, USN"
Ben Midkiff of Laurel, MD

"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."
Tecumseh of USA

"I never had the opportunity to meet Daniel, however my husband served with him. I know he ment a great deal to my husband. He has spoken often of how he was a great leader and friend. His memory will forever live on in our family. It was very important to my husband that he honor him. So our sons middle name is Daniel after him. I am sorry for your loss but know he made a difference in so many lives. He will never be forgotten."
Leah Handville of Lutz, Fl

"Today I participated in a 10K for fallen soldiers I was honored to represent Marine Staff Sgt Daniel C. Clay. All who knew and loved him are in my prayers. He and his family made the ultimate sacrifice."
Theresa A. Wells of Riverview, FL/USA

"SSgt. Clay,
Sometimes I'll think about my time in the Marines, and I'll remember driving with you riding shotgun as our platoon Sgt. and MSR Security. Those are the good memories I have of being a Marine. It was never easy to come home after the corps and rejoin the world. But I try to live my life in a way that honors you and the other guys that never got to come home again. Your life and the person you were will be remembered and not forgotten. Rest in peace Ssgt."
Danny Martinez of San Antonio, TX

"Where to begin..... I first met Ssgt. clay when he was then Sgt. clay in 1st F.A.S.T. Co. 6th plt. Sgt. clay was my first sqd. leader that i ever had. He was truly god sent. I was a young Marine with NO focus. Sgt. clay gave me that focus. His level of patience while being the most intense, and passionate marine I have ever met (still to this day) is what every marine should strive for. He was stern when he had to be and a friend when you needed him to be, but he was your brother all the time. he truly was an amazing man! As a young marine that struggled a lot to get my feet under me most would have said "what else can I do", but with Sgt. Clay he found different ways to help me learn. I still struggled after he left F.A.S.T. but I made the best of it. I left and checked into the fleet and thought about him often and his teachings, I took off slowly no longer hindered but truly excelling! I had checked into Paris Island S.C. apart of Wpns. Bn. and I truly excelled. it was there that i learned of Ssgt. Clays death among a few others from 6th. plt. Like others have said, i did have the air knocked out of me. On most days while remembering the old days I struggle to remember names and faces, but Ssgt. Clay is set in stone in my memory. SSgt. Clay is the guideline for me in my life. The world lost and amazing person, but god had a plan and for him it was to train, lead, and protect people just like me.

-Daniel, words can not describe what I truly feel for you and everything you have done for me. R.I.P. brother and know you touched the lives of many Marines, which in turn will carry on to touch many, many more. SEMPER FI!!!"
Sgt, John Rogers USMC of Asheville, NC. USA

"To the Clay family,

Thanks for raising an American hero! And to Lisa, thanks for sharing him with us. I had the pleasure of meeting then Sgt Clay in Ar Rutbah, Iraq in 2004. When I returned from Iraq, SSgt Clay and I had the opportunity to train together to develop doctrine for implimenting Military Working Dogs in combat. He was a true American hero. I am better for having known him. As I approach retirement and reflect on my career and the many Marines that I have had the pleasure of knowing, SSgt Clay is at the top. God bless you and Merry Christmas to you all!"
MSgt Ellington of Cherry Point, NC

"It's taken me a long time to get to this point...but I miss D.J. We shared laughs and sweat...Awesome man, Awesome Marine, Awesome friend. He is missed and thought of often. To his family, thank you for sharing him with the world and with Marines like me. Here's a toast to Him and those like him."

As you know I am you sister, Kim's, best friend (even to this day). I only remember you as a child and adolescent but you and your family are in my prayers DAILY. When Kim called and told me the news of your death in Falujah, I saw your picture and recognized you as a grown man. I will never forget you and our times on Leesway Blvd. Those times are magical and timeless. I didn't get to know you as an adult but you are missed so much. Thank you,Dan, for protecting "The Innocents""
Leigh Ann Macon of Mobile, Alabama

"I never want to forget the sacrifices of so many young men and women. I am so proud it makes me cry at times. I understand in theory only that war is a part of human nature but so is love and caring. I wish I could take your families and friends pain away but I can't. I am committed to loving ALL people, myself and our environment. I am committed to working on my happiness everyday because so many have died for my freedom to live my life. Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. All my love and respect. ogersteiner@yahoo.com
A hundred times a day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am receiving. - Albert Einstein"
Scott E. Steiner of Worthington, OH USA

"I met your son right after SOI. We were amused because we shared the same last name and liked many things. I never saw him again, but he made an impression upon me. I have since switched to the Army, but I will not forget my Brothers in the Corps, especially the ones like SSgt Clay"
SGT Jonathan Clay USAR of Fort Lee, VA

"To the Clay family, The honor was all mine and Im sorry that it has taken so long to write. About 2 years ago I visited your son in DC and it brought tears to my eyes. We served together at 1st FAST and I was in his wedding in Ohio. Ssgt Clay was a great Marine but an even better person. Even though we were the same age he taught me a lot about life and I still use all of the leadership skills he taught me in my current job.

The day that I found out that Ssgt Clay had been killed I dropped and started crying. I hadn't talked to him in almost 3 yrs but it was like he was right there telling me it was ok.

** Ssgt Clay, I know you still watch over us like you never left. One day I will be there to join you. Thank you and I miss you.. SEMPER FI BROTHER**"
Fmr Cpl Andy Colliton of Keene NH

"Brother, your memory is with me everyday, thanks for the laughs and the camaraderie. I will never forget our talk we had before we departed to our FOBs….I miss you little brother, looking forward to seeing you again.

Scott Baker
1st Sgt USMC"

"Veteran's Day, 2008
To the family of Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Clay:
Daniel gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Dan, It's been awhile but the emptiness is still as hard as a punch to the gut and makes me think of you often.

I remember your convictions, your love for your family and your dedication to whatever mission you were assigned.

I also loved your positive outlook, cheerfullness and absolute willingness to go the extra mile when things looked dim, just to see what was around the corner.

You always knew what was around the corner, even if some of us didn't at the time.

You always knew him, and I know he welcomed you with open and loving arms.

Dan, love you brother.

Semper Fidelis"
Cannon of Holly Springs, NC

"To the family of Dan Clay,
I had the honor and privilege of serving with Dan in both Bahrain and at MCSFTCo in Chesapeake, VA. We began a fairly close friendship until I was transferred to 3rd FAST Co and we sort of lost touch. Dan was an incredible man and Marine and the news of his passing hit me like a ton of bricks. I think of him often, as he made such a lasting impression on me. He made everyone around him a better person just for having been in his presence. I wish there was more I could say. God bless you all and God bless Dan - a true hero."
Former SSST Tony Miodonka of Milford, CT

"To the family of Dan Clay: I would like to thank you for allowing your son, husband and father to serve with me for the short time that I knew Dan in 1st Fast Company. I'll never forget the one long night and arduous night we spent together in Bahrain. He was a true Marine who served with enthusiasim, esprit de corp, devotion for his Fellow Marines, Country and family. God Bless, for he will never be forgotten."
Former Sgt. Todd Crowder / SSGT CROWDER PAANG USAF of Clear Spring, MD

"To Dan's family: Dan will always have a special place in the memory of his Washington High classmates. I will always think of him as the witty and smiling guy from my high school days. He will not be forgotten."
Ashley Branch Scavino of Dunedin, FL

Matthew Seals (lcpl.) of Lake Elsinore, CA. U.S.A.

"Today in 2008 Daniel J. Clay continues to reach others for Christ. His mission lives on. What an inspiration to SO MANY!!!"
Rhonda Berthiaume of Phoenix Arzona

"To Dan and his family,
I served with Dan from SOI to Marine Barracks 8th & I. We were all brother and the day I learned of Dans death was from another friend we both served with. I will never forget the call letting me know of his sacrifice. I never got the chance to say good bye but never wanted to. Dan you served your country with honor and pride and are the true image of a Marine. You will always be missed but never forgotten. Semper Fi and God bless. Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his brother!"
Sgt.Collion S. Carroll ( USMC/ 0311) of New Albany,IN

"To the Clay family,
I served with Dan in 1996 at Chesapeake at security forces school right after SOI.He was a hard charger and always made lemonade from lemons.May the Lord Jesus Christ help you come to peace. I have just read Dan's Letter. I sat silent for an hour after reading it.I agree with Dan that we all have our duty according to the will of God. Last year we lost two of our own in a shootout at a police station.One of the fallen was a new Christian. Her recorded testimony was played at her funeral and reached thousands of those it otherwise would not have reached.Christ uses us for His will and plan.Dan certainly is one of the elect.His ultimate sacrifice is not in vain.My sympathy goes to you for your loss.I can only imagine the love Dan must feel being in the presence of the Lord.God bless you."
Brian of Fairfax, VA

"Dan was more than a friend, he was a great mentor, spending countless hours spreading his wisdom. Off work he was a great friend, during work he was the greatest leader I ever saw in the Marine Corps. 2/7 lost the greatest SNCO they ever had. You legacy will never die.
Stronger Than All"
Mike Thompson of Indianapolis, IN

"During my second tour in Iraq I had the privelege of serving with SSGT Clay in 2/7 Fox Company. We spent so many nights on our down time talking about life and things in general. He educated me on the gospel and helped me to establish a faith and belief in Jesus Christ. I remember when I heard the news from my cozy job at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt guilty that I wasn't there. I shouldn't feel that way but I do. I am sorry for your loss. Your son was a great man and a positive influence to us all. I know I will see him in Heaven."
HM2 Schwartz, Brandon of Bahrain

"I was just a young Marine fresh out of boot camp and SOI. I was with your son, but as one of his students. At MCSFB in Chesapeake VA, where at the time Sgt Clay was my weapons instructor, I can remember him very vividly, he was the epitome of what you would call a Marine. I heard about his death in Jan 2006 from my buddy who was stationed with him in Iraq with 2/7. I was very saddened to hear of his passing, but forever will I remember him for how hey taught me, how he ran me, and how he would do pull ups and tell us stories of how he wanted to be in Recon but couldn’t because he was color blind. He was everything I pictured what a Marine would be, and I strived very hard to be the Marine he was during my 4 years. SEMPER FIDELIS!"
Cpl.Butler (USMC RET) of Tallahassee, FL

"To the family of Daniel Clay: I had the pleasure of knowing your son, then Cpl. Clay, who we all looked up to in C co 1/3, 2nd plt! He was such a fun and energetic person to be around.(I still have a picture of him drawing a happy face on the back of my head when he cut my hair or when he shaved the entire platoon's heads before our first deployment).We all will miss him very much and I am deeply sorry for your loss. God Bless you all.
Semper Fi."
Sgt. Bermudez of El Paso, Tx

""Dan" I only knew you for a short period of time. He was my roommate at Sergeant's Course from Jan. 2003-Feb. 2003 in Quantico, Va. Wow it was a great month and a half getting to know you and hear some of your stories. I will truly miss you and I wish to let your family know that God is watching over them know and you are in Heaven probably still being a Marine. You will be missed."
SSgt Wishert of Okinawa, Japan

"Anyone that knew SSgt Clay knew him as the epiphany of what the Marine Corps stands for. He made the younger Marines strive to be him, and the senior Marines strive to be better. As a young marine in need of direction, I was stationed with the then Sgt Clay, and I will never forget the day he invited me to Thanksgiving dinner with him and his wife, I said gladly, then he looked me in the eye with a spooky seriousness and said.. "If you ever, ever need anything at all, come straight to me", then hit me in the chest where my US MARINES name tape was and said you see that... then pointed to his name tape and said... that makes us brothers, and i'll do anything for my brothers. Sgt Clay your impression left on me was a positive one and will forever make me strive to be a better person, thank you for all you have done."

"To the family of:Daniel J. Clay I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness,
and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief.
Our nations HERO, Daniel will be remembered by name.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Pat & Sandi Breckenridge / Montana God Bless you ALWAYS. "

"To the Clay Family, I wish to offer to you my most sincere condolences. We are praying for you all. Your Daniel is a true American Hero, he will always be remembered and honored. May God Bless you all and God Bless Daniel."
Mary Ghaney of Brooklyn, New York

"Thankyou for your son's sacrifice. He was standing in the same vicinity of my son-n-law Lance Corporal Joseph Grady who was badly injured in the same incident.His strength and courage is what all marines emulate to be. I am in awe of his leadership and I am convinced that he was an angel sent by GOD to protect those injured and return to heaven with the brothers that he loved so dearly."
Wendy Eastman of San Diego, California

"I am Sgt. Thomas Simpson ret. I was your sons squad leader when he was with c co. 1/3 2nd platoon! What an Outstanding Marine. I also went to a couple swimming schools with him. He could swim like a fish. May god bless him and your family. I had a K.I.A. tin bracelet made in rememberance of him that i will wear in his memory. Semper Fi- Lava Dog."
Tommy Simpson of Trenton NJ 08690

"Mr Bud Clay,
I do not know how else to reach you but I want to thank you for sharing your letter with us and Daniels' letter with the world. As I send my husband off to Iraq for the year and explain to our 3 young sons what Daddy is doing, I refer to your son's words. He states so perfectly God's plan for us and shows us true integrity that exemplies the Marine Corps. I am proud to be a Marine Corps Wife and will be even prouder to be a Marine mom if that is the path my boys choose. I hope my husband returns safely. If not, I have your words and your son's words to look toward and understand that we are doing God's work every day on this earth and to meet our heavenly Father is our greatest reward. I bless you and your family for raising such a fine son and Marine. God Bless you,"
Laurie Curtin of Camp Pendleton, CA

"Daniel you are an American Hero! Thank you for serving our country! An for being a military brother to our son. I realize neither of you knew one another. serving two different branches. Still American soldiers always have one anothers back's! You and all that serve had been a comfort to me. Never to worry about our son. I can assure you Gregory considered you his brother. Today is very diffucult. I shed many tears since losing Gregory. Today those tears are your's. You have not died in vain! You are someone's someone and you are someone to the Wahl family. Time to honour Daniel! Please reach out to your community and political leaders today. Request a STREET be named in his honour. After all he served his community, county, state and country. America is alot safer that Daniel unselfishly answered the calling to serve our country. Not many American's do! Healing is a slow process. Take it one day at a time. Be supportive to one another. daniel loved you all very dearly. As you all loved him. Daniel has touched many many people. All will remembered and share very precious and fond memories of Daniel. He will not before gotten.. Not today, tomorrow or ever. God Bless!"
Leonard Wahl of VALLEY STREAM NY

"Thank you Daniel Clay, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Daniel Clay:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Daniel for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Staff Sgt. Daniel Clay:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Daniel, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on