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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, December 19, 2004

Kane'ohe Marine killed in Iraq

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Kane'ohe-based Marine was killed in Iraq on Thursday, the 16th to die there since Oct. 24.

Lance Cpl. Franklin A. Sweger, 24, of San Antonio was killed "as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar province," according to the Marine Corps.

Military officials did not release further details about the location or of events leading to Sweger's death.

The towns of Fallujah and Ramadi — both volatile areas in Iraq — are in Anbar province.

In addition to the deaths of Sweger and 15 other Hawai'i-based Marines in Iraq, Hawai'i has lost one sailor since Oct. 24 and 12 Schofield Barracks soldiers in the past 11 months.

Lance Cpl. Blake A. Magaoay, 20, of Pearl City, a California-based Marine, was killed Nov. 29 in Fallujah.

Thirteen Hawai'i- based military personnel have been killed in Afghanistan since March.

Sweger, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed to the Middle East with his unit in August.

Although he was depressed for a while after arriving in Iraq, his mother told The Associated Press that he was more upbeat two weeks ago.

" 'Everything's OK, Mom, don't worry about me,' " Susie Hernandez of San Antonio said he had told her during a phone conversation. " 'I think I'm going to make it.' "

Sweger dropped out of college to join the Marines, but planned to return to school after completing his military obligations, his mother said.

"He loved science," she told The Associated Press. "He studied chemistry and everything on his own since he was little."

Hernandez said her son enjoyed making people laugh and looked forward to the day he would start his own family.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his father, his stepfather, his stepmother, two stepbrothers and many aunts and uncles.

Sweger enlisted in the Marine Corps in April 2001, and attended the School of the Infantry, where he became a rifleman. He was then assigned to Kane'ohe.

His medals and awards include the National Defense Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

He has been recommended for the Purple Heart, Marine Corps officials said.

According to The Associated Press, Sweger's death brings the number of Texans killed in Iraq to at least 118.

Services have been set for another Hawai'i-based Marine, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Steven Blanton, 23, of Marietta, Ga., who was killed last Sunday in Fallujah.

Visitation will be tomorrow and services Tuesday in Marietta. Burial will be at Marietta National Cemetery.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program.

Blanton was born in Cobb County, Ga., graduated from Marietta High School in 2001 and enlisted in 2002.

He served with the First Battalion, Third Marine, C Company Weapons Platoon, based at Kane'ohe. He had been stationed in Fallujah for two months.

Blanton is survived by his wife, Amber; mother, Tracie Botts; father and stepmother, Steven and Donna Blanton; maternal grandparents, Elaine and Doug Lovett; maternal great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Pilgrim; stepbrothers, Corey and Chris Rapes.

Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.