Monday, December 11, 2006
R.I.P. - Marine Major Joseph Trane McCloud
I never met Major Joseph Trane McCloud. But my friend Meghan Johnson knows him.
In fact, to my knowledge I don't personally know any of the nearly 3000 American soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. But today's email from Meghan stopped me in my tracks to remember, again, just exactly what's happening a world away from my safe, secure family.
This year many families will experience Christmas minus the joy that normally accompanies it because they have lost a loved one in a war zone thousands of miles away. And many children won't have their Dad or Mom around to take pictures of them opening presents, as we will in our home.
Read Meghan's simple but powerful email below, and then read the story about Major McCloud, who gave the last full measure of service to his country last week.
I never met Major McCloud. But through my friend Meghan, he is being remembered, and thanked, by people he's served but never met. Keep the McCloud family, and the families of all of our troops, in your prayers this Christmas season.
This is supposed to be the season of peace. Pray for peace, and sanity and responsible leadership, in our world.
My friend Maggie McCloud lost her husband last week in Iraq. This is the first person that I know who has died in Iraq. Trane's death has has really made me think about what is going on in Iraq and has made me even more angry about the whole mess.
Before Trane's death I was at the point that when I heard on the news in the mornings that we had lost more soldiers Iraq, it had no impact at all. It was just apart of the morning news, like traffic and weather. Now I can put a life with the loss. I knew Trane but more importantly, I know his wife and kids that he leaves behind. I am so worried for my sweet friend Maggie and her three precious children. Who will play ball with Hayden who is 7, who will help these kids with their math problems now? I know Maggie must be asking all these same questions just times 10,000.
I wanted to pass this along to you because I want you to think about the war in Iraq as well. I hope having a human connection to this war will make you appreciate all that you have. This morning when I was getting dressed for work, I heard another soldier was killed by a roadside bomb and it made me think about who that soldier leaves behind.
I decided this year not to give gifts to people for Christmas, but to give to a fund that was set up for the McCloud children. I said to myself "how many $50 candles can I buy my friends and does it really matter if I give them a gift or not"? We all know that it doesn't matter how many $50 candles I give or receive because it won't bring Trane back to his family nor will it bring back the nearly 3,000 soldiers we have lost in Iraq.
Just something to think about and remember in this holiday season.
Joseph Trane McCloud
JOSEPH TRANE McCLOUD
Marine Major Joseph Trane McCloud lost his life on a mission in Iraq on Monday, December 4, 2006. Trane was born on December 14, 1966 in Elizabethton, Tennessee. He is survived by his wife, Maggie (formerly of Sayville, New York) and their children, Hayden (7), Grace (5) and Meghan (2); his mother and step-father, Roma and Carl J. Anderson; father, Ron McCloud; brother, Richmond McCloud; sister, Dawn Fattore (John); in-laws, Ann and the late Jack Hayden; Jack Hayden (brother in law) and Kelly Fallon (sister in law).
After graduating from the University of Tennessee in 1989, he served 17 dedicated years in the Marine Corps. He was serving in Iraq, with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, when he paid the ultimate sacrifice; the helicopter he was flying on, crash landed in a lake in the Anbar Province, near Baghdad. Trane was a devoted husband, father, son, and a Marine's Marine, who believed freedom is precious and well worth protecting. Mission accomplished Trane...farewell Marine...rest in peace.
Friends may call at the DEMAINE FUNERAL HOME, 520 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA, where the family will be present on Thursday, December 14, 2006 from 5 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Friday, December 15, 10 a.m. at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 8710 Mt. Vernon Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309. Interment to follow at Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors.
By John Thompson
Elizabethton Bureau Chief
ELIZABETHTON — “He was a good Marine, he loved the military,” Ron McCloud said Monday about his son. The proud father had learned just hours earlier that Maj. Trane McCloud had been killed in Iraq over the weekend when the helicopter he was riding in lost power.
“I know I am talking like a father, but I never saw a more talented person in my life. He could do anything, he could restore cars, he could do crown molding, he was good at everything.”
A close examination of Trane McCloud’s life demonstrates that his father was not boasting. While excelling as a military officer, McCloud also found time to make a difference for schoolteachers across the nation who teach in low-income neighborhoods. He played a key role in a loan forgiveness program for those teachers.
The McCloud family got the bad news late Sunday evening when two Marines in uniform came to their door. Details are still sketchy, but a twin-rotor CH-46 helicopter from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing experienced mechanical problems immediately after taking off from Haditha Dam in Anbar province on Sunday.
Ron McCloud said he understands the helicopter was losing altitude. The 12 Marine passengers were told to jump out into Lake Qadasiyah.
“Eight of them made it and four of them didn’t,” McCloud said. When the Marines talked with him Sunday night they told him his body had not yet been recovered from the lake, but it was now “a recovery effort rather than a rescue effort.”
Trane McCloud was born in Elizabethton but his family moved away when he was only 2 years old. The family first went to Atlanta and later to the Detroit area, where he graduated from Grosse Pointe High School.
His father remembered him as an outstanding athlete even as a young boy. He made the All-City team in football in Detroit, playing linebacker for the Grosse Pointe team. He also stood out as a center fielder in Colt League baseball for teenagers. As a 14-year-old he told his father he was going to catch someone loafing to first after making a solid hit. He was true to his word, throwing the ball to first base from center field in time to make the out.
After graduating, McCloud went to the University of Tennessee, where he studied liberal arts and history. He graduated in 1989 and enlisted in the Marine Corps just in time for Desert Storm, during which he served on the U.S.S. Missouri. His crew fired a 5-inch gun on the starboard side during the bombardment of the Kuwaiti coastline. He also served on the ship during action in Somalia.
During his time on the ship, Ron McCloud said the ship’s captain grew fond of the young Marine and encouraged him to attend Officer Candidate School. He was accepted.
His most memorable moment on board the Missouri came at Pearl Harbor, when the captain selected him to escort the first President Bush on the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The captain told Bush that his Secret Service agents could stand down because the Marines would handle his security on board the ship. McCloud told his father that Bush told him he had heard he was going to OCS and he thought McCloud would be a fine officer.
After obtaining his commission, McCloud was assigned as an infantry officer. He was a reservist serving on active duty.
One of his assignments was with the Navy and Marine Corps News, where he produced a weekly television program that was broadcast weekly to sailors and Marines around the world.
After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, McCloud served in the Philippines, which was also fighting an Islamic extremist insurgency.
In 2003, McCloud was assigned as a military fellow to Rep. Joe Wilson, who serves on the House Committee on Armed Services.
“He really was a Marine’s Marine,” Wilson said after hearing about McCloud’s death. “He really lived the Marine Corps (motto) of semper fidelis, which means always faithful.”
Wilson’s district includes the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C.
McCloud worked in the congressman’s office for only a year, but during that time Wilson said “he was a trusted adviser to me as a member of the Armed Forces Committee. Wilson is also a member of the Education and Workforce Committee and found that McCloud was also helpful in that decidedly non-military area.
One of the major projects Wilson’s office was working on was a teacher loan forgiveness bill for teachers in schools in low-income neighborhoods.
“The person who worked on that the hardest in 2003 was Trane McCloud,” Wilson said. The bill has since become law.
Wilson also remembers the athlete. “He organized a Wilson Running Team for the 2003 Marine Corps Marathon,” Wilson said. The team included office staffers and Wilson’s son Julian, who is a lieutenant in the Army National Guard.
“Our whole family loved him,” Wilson said. “He was truly a family member for us and we will always remember him. He is a hero. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Maggie, and their three children.”
Ron McCloud said his son also had an impact on the city of Elizabethton last summer. Ron does public relations for the Carter County Car Club. While his son was stationed in Washington last year, Ron said Trane invited him up for the Washington Autorama. Dennis Gates of the “My Classic Car” television show was filming the event.
On the spur of the moment, Ron said Trane decided to ask Gates to bring his show to the weekly Carter County car shows. Using the public relations skills he acquired with the Navy and Marine Corps News, Trane soon had an information packet about the weekly shows and scenes of nearby attractions like Watauga Lake.
They presented the packet to Gates, who was so impressed he decided to come to Elizabethton for a show. The result was the biggest car show in Elizabethton’s history, with car buffs coming from several surrounding states.
“He really could do anything,” McCloud said of his son.
McCloud said details for the funeral are not yet decided but his son had told him he wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Wilson said he would help the family with that request.