Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron C. Pickering

20, of Marion, Illinois.
Pickering died as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Died on November 10, 2004.

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"I remember when I first met Aaron at the SIUC rec center, he came up to me and was like are you Robert I was like yes he was like SSgt Randazo told me to find you. Turns out we were leaving for bootcamp at the same time. It was me, Aaron and John Wright (all from Southern Ill) We didn't get to be in the same platoon, but we were right across from each others squad bays. Every time we were out doing PT or anything we 3 would yell each others names out. After boot camp we came back to Carbondale, then back out to more training. I was stationed at Camp Lejeune and them 2 went elsewhere (due to MOS) I was in cali at training to be deployed to Fallujah and I was looking at the newspaper from Carbondale and as I was scrolling the page up all I saw was his eyes looking back at me. I got on the phone and started calling John Wright to let him know what had taken place. It must have been something, because as I m trying to call him he was trying to call me to let me know. It hurts my heart everyday because I find myself thinking about him all the time. Especially during Memorial Day. I keep the photo that was in the paper and I look at it often. Even though we didn't know each other for years he because my good friend and I miss him/ RIP AP"
robert walker of Austin, Tx USA

"To a fellow Marine parent: Brady Burr is my son and a friend of your son. I will never forget the day after he graduated from Marine Boot Camp and we were traveling back to our home in Tx. He pulled me aside on the plane and said 'Mom, if they ask me to go.... I'm going!' I knew what he meant. He didn't even have to say that ugly four letter word I-R-A-Q. I knew that I had to make peace with his decision right in that moment or else it would slowly but surely gnaw away at me. He DID go! He never spoke much about it, but today as I read his tribute to your son, my eyes welled up. I felt a strong sense of pride and thankfulness. Pride in both of our sons and thankfulness to yours. Not only did your son pave the way for my son, but he also meant so much to my son that I got to see a piece of Brady's heart that I hadn't gotten to see. November 10th is my birthday and I promise you, that from now on, that day will have even more meaning to me and that your son, Aaron, will be in my heart and I will remember him not only on my birthday, but every time I think of our brave sons! God Bless You!!"
Barbara A. Burr of Lake Jackson, Tx

"To the family of Aaron. I live on South Market Rd aka Aaron C Pickering Memorial Highway. I did not know your son,but something we do have in common. I served our country in another conflict some forty years ago. Unlike your son I did come home alive. I am a 100% Service Connected disabled veteran, and if you would bump into me you probably wouldn't think that I had ever been injured. I did die aboard my ship, but medics brought me back. I have had alot of health problems over the years and feel like I am cheating the families like yours that only have memories and what ifs. To those of us that come home and leave fallen friends behind and see the new combat heroes from recent conflicts it is difficult to understand why we made it and others didn't. I guess the good Lord has a reason, sometimes it is hard for me to realize what it may be. All that I have to say to you is your son gave the ultimate gift to our country and should always be remembered with honor. I only hope that each post on here brings you strength and peace. As I said earlier I didn't know your son and only know of him because of the sign on the highway in his honor. Yet I do know him, I am him as is all the men and women who bravely go forth to serve our great country. God Bless your son and your family."
James A Lyell of Marion, Illinois USA

"I went through boot camp with Aaron. Golf Company, Platoon 2031, Sept. 7 2003-Dec. 5 2003, MCRD San Diego. I find myself thinking of Aaron often. Especially during Memorial Day weekend, and on November 10th. Not only is it the anniversary of his passing, but both the Marine Corps and my mother's birthday. I had the privilege of getting to know Aaron more than most of the other recruits we were with. During the last month of boot camp, he slept in the rack next to mine. One day during team week towards the end of boot camp, we had a conversation that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It was one of the only times that drill instructors were not around, and we were able to relax for a few seconds to have a normal conversation about life, the future, and what we were going to do as soon as we got home from boot camp. I will always remember him for how tough he was, and how easy he made boot camp seem. How he was always on the verge of smiling or laughing about the torture our drill instructors were putting us through that day. Or how he was allergic to dog tags, and broke out in a rash after they were issued to us. Please know that Aaron lives on in the minds and the hearts of all that he came in contact with. When you are thinking of him, know that we are thinking of him too. You are not forgotten brother."
Brady M. Burr of Palestine, TX

"Aaron was a high school student of mine. He took Current Events, Illinois History, internship, Service Learning, and U.S. History from me. He was a joy. I have many happy memories. However two stand out: the Christmas present he gave me (and he wrote: Mrs. W., I don't know much about picking out gifts for girls, but I saw this and remembered how you like your red, white, and blue to sparkle!). It was a beautiful American Flag necklace and I will wear it always in your honor, Aaron. The other incident: Aaron told me and his class: I admire Nathan Hale more than any other person in U. S. History and hope to be just like him! Aaron, I can still see you, in my classroom, in full dress, when you came to say goodbye. You were and always be my hero in American History. You would make 100 Nathan Hales. I miss you so. God Bless you and thank you for your courage and willingness to sacrifice everything for your country. So proud to have known you. Mrs. W."
Robyn Williams of Harrisburg

"I came across this page today during Memorial Day weekend reminiscing about fallen heroes who I may know personally. Aaron was a year behind me in school. For those out there still reading this page, know that I have lifted up prayers for Aaron's family and friends. My God bless his family and I pray that we meet again one day in heaven, Aaron.
J. Marlo, 307th PSYOP Co., OIF 07/08, Al Anbar Province"
J. Marlo of Charleston, IL

"To the family of:Aaron C.Pickering
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""

"Be easy man"

"Recruit Pickering, as I remember him by I went to boot camp with Aaron and remember all 3 months of it and meeting his family on graduation day, both being from IL, we left San Diego that day new Marines ready for anything. I was in Iraq at the same time Aaron was KIA not finding out until I returned to California. My best wishes go to his family. It has been over four years since he has passed and I still remember our first day at boot camp."
SGT Brock Keller (ret.) of Irvine, CA United States

"November 16, 2008
To the family of Lance Cpl. Aaron C. Pickering:
Aaron 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

"I miss you Pick. You were a great Marine."
Sgt Kane of Temecula, Ca

Will Jeans of Westfield NJ

"Aaron C Pickering: I don't know where to start. Aaron was a good guy he would give me a hard time all the time. I miss him and i always will."
john mcpeek of 62846

"He was some place I should of been. The man me and my wife knew was a fighter would not give up on his dreams or friends. His death saddens my heart. God be with him and his family. He served America proudly fought with honor defending freedom and protecting rights. He paid the ultimate sacrifice. A true American Solider"
Johney And Stephanie La Botte of Harrisburg, Illinois United States of America

"Hey man it's been two years today and I miss you. I couldn't believe the news when I heard it. Don't forget that you still owe my a bag of BBQ Potato Chips, but I guess I'll have to wait till I see you at the gates man, and I promise I'll buy you that beer."
Jon Linhart LCPL/USMC (ret.) of Milwaukee, WI

I would like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. I read about you in the August 2006 edition of Leatherneck Magazine. A friend of yours, Cpl Kristopher Kane was awarded the Silver Star that day and the article described how tough that firefight was that you were in. After reading that article, I looked up this site on the Internet and read the all the reflections left for you. You touched a lot of people in your life. I would like to end this reflection by extending my deepest sympathy to your family and saying thank you for raising such a good son who was willing to stand up for our Country.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!"

"I miss Aarons calls from the beach, laughing and having a good time while I was in the fine state of IL. and it was forty degrees. He is greatly missed by myself. I remember the first time I met him and his mother he was young man that was tired of paving and was ready to do something more and he did, if giving the ability to go back and change things, I wouldn't he knew what he wanted and his mother knew he wanted it too, he wasn't going to let a hurt thumb stop him from being a Marine. I miss you Devil Dog keep on marching we will one day meet again, Semper Fi."
GySgt Jonathan Magann of Camp Pendleton, CA

"My name is Cameron Schilling and I have started “Portrait of a Soldier” which donates a portrait sketch of every Illinois soldier who has fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan. All 122 sketches will be on display for a Memorial Day Presentation in Chicago, Illinois on May 26-31 at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. After the ceremony the sketches will be given to the immediate families of the Illinois soldiers. I would invite any friends or family members to come and honor these men and women from Illinois who have given their lives to our country. For more information please contact OperationHomeFront.org at 866-417-8889 which is an organization headed by the Lt. Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois who is in charge of the Memorial Day Presentation. Thank You.

Please check out www.portraitofasoldier.org
To contact Cameron email cameronschilling84@hotmail.com
To contact Operation Home Front call 866-417-8889"
Cameron Schilling of Charleston, Illinois

"""As a veteren of K Co 3/3 and a very short stint (2 Months with G Co)(1986-1990)MCAS K-Bay it saddens me to hear of the loss of my brother Marine but I know he left us bravley fighting to keep my family safe from the evils of the world keeping with the highest traditions of the Corps. I'm now to old to reenlist but if I could I would."""
Lcpl. Robert Blaylock of Lakeside CA, USA

"My name is Cameron Schilling. I am a college student from central Illinois. I am the first generation of my family not to serve his country. I am extremely grateful for the sacrifice you and your loved one has given for the United States. I am disappointed by the way the news media has covered this war and the deaths of our youth. The media has stopped listing the names of the soldiers killed in Iraq and people only talk about the soldiers when we reach a specific milestone in deaths. If you just started watching the news today you would not even know there is a war going on. Partisan politics have replaced coverage of our young generation who have traveled to a foreign land in the name of the United States. Whether you believe the war in Iraq is wrong, right, justified or not everyone should pay even just a little more attention to what these young men and women are sacrificing. This is what I would like to do. I want to do my part in honoring these soldiers and their memories. Along with being a college student I am also a budding artist. I draw pencil portraits of local people in my community. I want to offer a pencil portrait sketch to the immediate family of every Illinois soldier killed in Iraq. Please contact me at cameronschilling84@hotmail.com."
Cameron of illinois

"At the time of Aaron's death, I was a Marine Corps Recruiter in Marion and Carbondale, IL. I was in that area for a couple of years. When I heard of Aaron's death it hit me like a semi. At that time, I had never met his mother and the first time I did was at his viewing. I know that Marines are supposed to have discipline and bearing but, at that point I broke down (that is why I did not attend the funeral). I was not Aaron's recruiter but I treated him like one of my own. We lost several Marines in that area in a short period of time. Each one I knew on some level. After Aaron's death I realized how much joy and brighter my life was for knowing him. Aaron has touched my life in many ways. Aaron, just want you to know that I miss you man and I would have taken your space if I had the opportunity. Such a young life that is gone from ours.God bless you Aaron.And may peace be with you, Lisa. Semper Fidelis!"
(Former Marine Sergeant) Michael Fouraker of Chicago, IL

"Although I did not know Aaron, he was killed the same week as my brother-in-law, Sgt. David Caruso. The names of the six Illinois Soldiers killed during the second week of November 2004 are always on my mind and will never be forgotten. Please know that my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Aaron. I know how deep your loss is."
Tina DeLuca-Caruso of Palos Heights, Illinois/USA

"God Bless you Brave Soldier. I recently lost my best friend, Sgt. Brian Romines of Anna/Simpson. I wish your family the very best. You are a true hero."
Erin of Anna, IL

"To the Family of LCpl. Aaron Pickering:

My friends and I have constructed a memorial to the service men and women from Wisconsin and Illinois who have died in Iraq which includes, as of 7/12/05, 112 crosses and Stars of David. We would like your permission to put Aaron's name on one of them.
We have called our display "Arlington Midwest" and it is located in Wisconsin Dells, WI.
It is our expression of mourning for the indescribable loss you have suffered for our country.

If you would like us to do this, please email me at ArlingtonMidwest@yahoo.com.

We invite you to visit Arlington Midwest. I can send you directions and some pictures by email.

"As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them."
Marty Preston of Wisconsin Dells, WI

"I am an AF nurse and I was deployed in Ramstein Germany when I heard about Aaron's death. I am home now but a part of me will always be with our young soldiers. I know that for every fallen comrad there is a grieving family. So many thanks to your beloved son and to you for your sacrifices."
Major Janice Simmons, USAF of Marion, IL USA

"My brother Cpl. Richard Gilbert, Jr. fought side by side with your son Aaron in Iraq. Now they are together again, Richard died Jan. 26,2005 in a helicopter crash is Iraq. So sorry for your loss and God Bless you...."
Missy Rader of Dayton, Ohio

"Thank you so much, dear friend, for raising your son to be a brave and loyal man. I know he made you so proud. One day you will get to be with him in heaven."
Kim of Paducah, KY

"Corporal Pickering, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"To the Family of Aaron Pickering..My heart goes out to you for the loss of your son, he served our country in the most honored way. I had to take a second look when I read about the death of your son Aaron in the paper a few weeks back, for my sons name is Aaron Pickering also and he was murdered in Milwaukee Wisconsin 5 yrs ago. I know your pain, and to know that you have also lost a young son, saddens me just as much as the loss of my son Aaron..Hugs to you and your family."
Pat Pickering of Beloit, Wi 53511,USA

"To Aaron's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice.


The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (The Big Ern's Mom) of San Antonio, TX

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

"To Aaron's Family:
There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"To the family and friends of Lance Corporal Aaron C. Pickering,

Those we hold most dear, never truly leave us. May you find comfort in love's everlasting connection.

In the Support section of this web site you will find links to many groups that support you at this crucial time. The Marine Comfort Quilt group would be honored to send a quilt to the next of kin. There are many, loving and caring Americans from all over the United States that will never forget the sacrifice that your loved one has made for our Freedom. Please register so we can send you our "Love Stitched Together."

Proud Marine Mom and Proud Member of Marine Comfort Quilts"
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, Ca

"Thank you Aaron Pickering, 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 Lance Cpl. Aaron Pickering:
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 Aaron 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 Lance Cpl. Aaron Pickering:
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 Aaron, 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