Marine from Naples killed in Afghanistan
Looking for a change of pace, Dennis James Burrow moved from Maryland to Naples a few years back.
After working for a while as a waiter and a bartender, Burrow, 23, joined the U.S. Marines, said his best friend, Jack Hagan, 23.
The Department of Defense announced Monday that Burrow, a lance corporal, had been killed Friday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
His address was listed as Naples, though Hagan said Maryland was still home.
“It’s like losing a brother,” said Hagan, who has known Burrow since elementary school. “He was the closest thing you could have to a brother without actually being family.”
Two other Marines from his company were killed the same day, according to Defense officials: Lance Cpl. Janier Olvera, 20, of Palmdale, Calif., and Lance Cpl. Patrick W. Schimmel, 21, of Winfield, Mo.
Burrow was an assaultman assigned to Company G, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
In a written statement, Marine Capt. Timothy Patrick said that Burrow joined the Marine Corps in June 2006 and was promoted to the rank of lance corporal on Sept. 1, 2007.
Burrow deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from November 2007 to May 2008, and to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in May.
His awards include the Iraqi Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medals.
Burrow was home in Maryland for about a week before shipping off to Afghanistan, Hagan said. They went out to a bar to have fun.
The last thing Hagan said he remembered telling Burrow was to be careful, to keep his head down and to call when he could.
“When you hear about this stuff, you never think it’s going to happen to you, especially for your best friend,” he said.
Hagan described Burrow as a “goofball,” who was into computers and good at math.
“He couldn’t have been more of an honest person, and he would drop anything he was doing to help you, for anything that you needed,” he said. “He was there all the time.”
Nick Marsit, commander of the Naples detachment of the Marine Corps League, was struggling to make sense of the loss Monday, especially as community members tried to learn more details about the 23-year-old.
“It’s very sad, and we’re going to do whatever we can to help the family, and if necessary, we’re going to be part of whatever is going to take place,” he said.
Burrow’s last known address in Naples is a now-abandoned home on Highlands Drive.
A neighbor said Burrow had not lived there in years.
Regardless of Burrow’s connection to the area, though, Marsit said, Burrow will always have a home in the hearts and minds of his fellow Marines.
“One Marine is never going to forget another Marine,” he said. “He’s one of us.”
Burrow and his fellow Marines who died Friday become part of a rising trend of violence claiming the lives of Americans in Afghanistan.
Another Southwest Florida Marine stationed out of Camp Lejeune died in Afghanistan in July while supporting combat operations.
Sgt. Michael C. Roy, 25, of North Fort Myers, died July 8 in Nimroz province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, according to the Defense Department.
Last month was the bloodiest month on record so far for U.S. troops in Afghanistan: 76 international service members were killed in violence in that country in July, including more than 30 U.S. troops, according to the Associated Press.
With that, July topped June, the previous record month with 28 U.S. fatalities. At the same time, the number of U.S. troops in the country is roughly double the presence in Afghanistan one year ago, when 30,000 U.S. service members were stationed there.
Elysa Batista, Ryan Mills and Leslie Williams are staff writers for the Naples Daily News.