MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON -- In the history of Marine Corps warfighting, there is no shortage of heroes, whom at times, risked their lives to save others and paid the ultimate price - death. But with death, came certain honor, and to that list of fallen heroes, the Corps has added a name in peacetime, Cpl. Jeremy J. Fulk.
Fulk, a rifleman and squad leader with 3rd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, was killed after saving two individuals during a training exercise on a patrolling range in the center of base Aug. 1.
For his heroics, Fulk was posthumously decorated with the Navy-Marine Corps Medal, which is awarded for heroism outside of a combat situation.
Fulk was assigned as a tactics instructor to teach Naval Midshipmen program tactics, techniques and procedures for combat patrols. At 9:55 p.m., Aug. 1, having just completed training, Marines from B Co. were embarking the Midshipmen aboard 5-ton trucks for transportation back to their billeting, according to the official report.
Six of the trucks were staged in a column for the movement and were spaced about 20 feet apart. To supervise the embarkation, Fulk moved to the rear of his assigned vehicle and was helping the driver of the truck lower the tailgate.
At that time, he noticed the truck immediately to his rear was out of control and rolling towards them. With only a split second to make a decision, and "demonstrating tremendous presence of mind," Fulk bravely remained between the two trucks, according to the citation. He quickly pushed a Marine to safety and then turned to lift the Midshipmen clear, sparing her the full impact of the collision. By his unselfish and prompt action, he "gallantly gave his life while saving the lives of others."
Fulk was laid to rest Aug. 10, in his hometown of New London, Iowa. Fifteen Marines from B Co. attended the services and provided support for his family and friends.
Two days after they returned from Iowa, four Marines from 3rd Platoon who were close to Fulk remembered their lost friend and comrade, Aug. 17.
Soon after meeting Fulk in February, 1st Lt. Benjamin Wagner, platoon commander, 3rd Platoon, B Co., 1/1, highlighted him and made him a squad leader immediately, he said.
"Corporal Fulk's best asset was his ability to lead by example at all times," Wagner said. "He knew when and where to raise his voice, but also when to show compassion when necessary. He knew his job and his Marines, and he strove to do the best at everything. Every day with Cpl. Fulk was a story to write about."
Wagner said Fulk's heroic actions exemplified what every Marine strives to be and demonstrated complete selflessness.
"If you look at Medal of Honor recipients, they all demonstrated similar acts as Cpl. Fulk. The act is special, because I'm sure some would have ducked out of the way - he is a hero.
"As a platoon commander, I told my Marines, and especially my NCOs, to use Cpl. Fulk as an example to mold new Marines," Wagner continued. "In that sense, they honor him and better the Corps. He was someone special and someone you can never replace and never forget."
Three Marines who worked and "played" with Fulk, Cpl. Carlos M. Constanzo, LCpl. Ryan Brewer and Cpl. Ryan P. Maguire, described him as a hard-working guy who carried himself with a lot of pride for who he was, where he was from and what he'd done.
Brewer met Fulk in June 1998, at the School of Infantry here, where they were bunk mates. The two graduated together and were assigned to the same squad with 3rd Platoon after leaving SOI.
Fulk was short (about 5' 8"), stocky, had bushy eyebrows, thick brown hair and big brown eyes, explained Brewer, a 22-year-old native of Ashland, Mo. He said his friend was always smiling and laughing, and he was easy to approach, because "he'd befriend anyone."
"He'd want to be remembered for the man that he was," Brewer said. "But, he was also someone who's just one of the guys - the same with the uniform off as he was with it on."
The time spent in Iowa with Fulk's family helped the three Marines, they said.
"We spent a lot of time with Jeremy's family and friends to do what we could for them," Brewer said. "In the same sense, it gave us peace of mind and a chance to say one last good-bye and have closure. Jeremy is where he should be now.
"Every Marine questions whether or not they'd do what he did," he continued. "Jeremy had the opportunity, and he put others first. It was what I would've expected him to do."
Constanzo, a 20-year-old native of Miami, met Fulk in 3rd Platoon, in Aug. 1998, and immediately shared common values and interests.
He was impressed with Fulk's ability as a Marine to do his job without complaining. One example of this was during a long hump in scorching weather when Fulk carried a full radio system throughout the hike.
"Big people were falling out all over," Constanzo said. "Jeremy was short, but he kept going without saying a word."
Maguire recalled a time when 3rd Platoon did a Special Operations Training Group boat raid on the frost-laden ground of Camp Talega. He only remembers sitting in the defense, soaking wet, taking turns trying to sleep, and just how awful of a time they all had.
Fulk first came across Maguire in Sept. 1998, when they were in the same squad and spent a lot of time together in and out of work.
The 24-year-old Frankfort, Kent., native had not so fond memories of two days in the defense at Red Beach, where he and Fulk were in the same fighting hole. When it came time to wake the other up for fire watch, Maguire said the two of them fought every time. But when it was all over, they looked back at the experience and laughed about it.
All three friends pointed out that Fulk liked fun as much as his work, which included embracing his promiscuity and doing a few "12-oz. curls" now and then. Constanzo said the past two years Fulk, Maguire, Brewer, another Marine and himself have spent most of their time together, it has been "one big story" ever since.
One thing is for certain, they said.
"What happened to Jeremy has made a big hole in our platoon," Maguire said. "We have a lot of work to do to get the platoon back to the way it was, and the way he would've had it. I don't know if it will ever be the same."
The 21-year-old Fulk followed in his older brother's footsteps by joining the Corps in March 1998. He attended the School of Infantry here and worked at 1/1 since August 1998.
While assigned to B Co., Fulk completed the Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Pacific Small Boat Raid Course, the SOTG Security Elements Course and Raid Course.
From June 21 to Dec. 21, 1999, he participated in a deployment to the Western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf, earning a Meritorious Mast, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.