CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Deployed Marines and Sailors gathered at the Regional Command Southwest Memorial Chapel on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, to honor the life of Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Dudley, July 18.
Dudley fell to his death from an MV-22 Osprey while conducting combat operations in southwestern Afghanistan, July 7.
“We will commemorate his life and not his death,” said Sgt. Maj. George P. Aurelio, the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 sergeant major. “We’re gathering to remember him for who he was, which was a great father, husband and Marine.”
Dudley, a native of Tega Cay, S.C., is survived by his wife, Mary, and three children.
“He’ll be missed dearly but he will be with us forever,” said Gunnery Sgt. Shawn A. Howard, the quality assurance chief for VMM-264, and a native of Brooksville, Fla. “This was not just a loss for the squadron, his family and friends, but for the Marine Corps as a whole.”
Dudley served with VMM-264, as an MV-22 Osprey crew chief. He deployed with the squadron out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in December 2010.
“He was a great man, he was the kind of guy who would do anything to help someone,” said Cpl. William Alder, a fellow crew chief with VMM-264, and a native of Flintstone, Md. “He will always be with us. He taught and led all of us and because of that he will live on with us.”