SGT Michael T. Washington Bracelet
SGT Michael T. Washington Bracelet
Michael enlisted during a time of war, choosing to serve his country in a manner most do not. The Marine Corps may have been his destiny for he was born at the Naval Hospital, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. He was deaf in one ear, an ailment that was not fully discovered until he was three. His childhood in California and later in Tacoma was happy although his father was often absent, deploying five times over the course of his young life. While his father was deployed, Michael took on responsibilities as the “man of the house,” never bemoaning the fact that other kids in the neighborhood had fathers who never missed a soccer game or school function.
Michael had many friends an infectious smile and was something of a class clown. He was an ordinary boy.
When Michael shared with his father that he intended to join the Marine Corps after high school, his father asked why? Why, when he had the opportunity to go to college? Why, when he could get a job? Why, when he could do practically anything he wanted to do? Michael looked at his father and said, “There are people in this world who need help, need protecting. I want to be the one who does that.” Even though the thought terrified his father, who had seen war up close on numerous occasions, he could not argue with the pureness of his intention and motive. He also knew that Michael, whose sister was in the army, had his mind made up and as soon as he could, he would leave home to make his way and keep his date with destiny.
Michael graduated early, in June of 2005 and wanted to enlist immediately but his parents refused. He begged, pleaded, and reasoned for his parents to give the permission for him to enlist and finally his parents relented, reasoning that he would leave home as soon as he turned 18 in October and spend that Christmas in boot camp with no guarantee of when the next the Christmas would be or they could sign the papers now sending him to the Marines and ensuring at least one more Christmas with him. And so, in September 2005, at the tender age of 17, he left for the Marines.
When Michael was in Iraq he was promoted to fire team leader, in charge of 4 other Marines. A Sergeant at the age of twenty, he oversaw the lives of 12 Marines. While on deployment and during correspondence with his father, he confided in him that he loved and cared for his Marines so much that if he lost one of his men, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself.
On the 14th of June, 2008 Michael and his platoon headed to the rear area support base to pick up supplies and personnel. They were in good spirits as one of the more popular members of the platoon was being picked up after returning from emergency leave in the states. On the way back the HUMMVEE Michael was riding in hit a roadside IED. The HUMMVEE was blown into the air and flipped over on its back. Michael and 3 Marines, Layton Crass, Michael Patton and Dawid Pietrek were killed instantly.
Michael’s Father flew to Dover to escort his son home. The flight from Seattle a blur, with no amount of alcohol able to make order of the chaos and loss he was slowly starting to understand to be true. Michael’s Father also knew one of the other Marines who died, Layton Crass, from holidays spent together. Michael was escorted by his Father and his father’s best friend who was still on active duty and had known Michael since he was a baby. The three of them flew on a contracted Cessna cargo jet from Dover to Illinois, to South Dakota and finally McChord Air Force Base. On June 27th the Young Man was given a Vikings Funeral and laid to rest at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent at Section 7 Site 65.