Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marine Prays His Phone Doesn't Ring

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Marine Prays His Phone Doesn't Ring

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

Marine 1st Sgt. David Devaney has a government phone with him all the time. He hates to hear it ring. He'd just as soon hear the guy next to him yell, "Incoming!" and then hear enemy artillery rounds cutting the air.

He's been there, but as the instructor/inspector first sergeant with a Marine reserves unit in Savannah, he's a long way from combat now. Like they say, war is hell but combat is . . . well, let's just say it's worse.

That G-phone rang Oct. 3 with an order for the hardest mission in his 22 years in the Marine Corps. Marine Cpl. John Stalvey had been killed in Iraq and Devaney had to drive to Brunswick and tell Stalvey's mother and father.

"Every time that phone rang," he said, "I prayed to God it wasn't one of those calls."

He climbed into a van with three other Marines and headed south on Interstate 95. This is a man who had served in the unrelenting hell that was the invasion of Iraq and who suddenly wished he was back. Back clutching an M-16, cold and hungry in dirty battle fatigues, rather than easing down a smooth highway in a crisp, clean dress uniform.

"It's knowing you're going to get ambushed," he said. "You drive for an hour and you know where it's going to happen and you know what's going to happen."

You know, but you can't turn around. You've got to look a mother and a father in their eyes and say those words he had learned in a four-hour training course. Sir or ma'am, he would say, "I regret to inform you your son was killed in combat this morning."

Except he never got to say that to Cpl. Stalvey's mother, Crystal Merillat. Her daughter, Cristen, already had seen the four Marines in front of her house, told them they had the right address and went inside to her mother. Crystal Merillat read the pain in her daughter's eyes before the Marine lifer strode up the concrete walkway. …

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