Fallston High graduate killed by bomb in Baghdad

Marine reservist, 21, was in Iraq for 2nd tour

Harford Marine is killed in Iraq

July 01, 2004|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Lance Cpl. Patrick Ryan Adle, a Fallston High School star football and lacrosse player who joined the Marine Corps when he turned 18 because he wanted to protect his family and his country, was killed Tuesday in Baghdad, Iraq, when the Humvee he was riding in struck a roadside bomb.

"He was a hero," Michael Watts said yesterday of his stepson, a 21-year-old Marine reservist who was in his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"I don't know all the details," Watts said, "but apparently the Marines were in some kind of skirmish and some were injured. They were put into an ambulance to be taken out of the area. The ambulance was the lead vehicle.

"The Humvee in which Patrick was riding with two other Marines was trying to protect the ambulance. It went around the ambulance to take the lead, and in the process it hit an embedded land mine.

"All three were killed instantly," Watts said. The other two men who died were identified as Sgt. Alan Sherman of northern New Jersey and Cpl. John Todd III of Montgomery County, Pa., military officials said.

Pamela Adle-Watts said her son "was very proud of being a Marine. He believed he was helping the people of Iraq. He believed he was doing the right thing."

Watts added: "Patrick made friends with the people of Iraq - the little kids, the parents. He told us, `They were grateful we were there to help.'"

Adle was with a military engineering unit at Folsom in Ridley Township, in suburban Philadelphia, according to Watts, who said he drove an earthmover.

It was because of his skill in operating machinery that Adle agreed to a second tour of duty in Iraq this year.

The Marines "said they needed him to operate the equipment, and he was committed to the Marines," Watts said. "He agreed to do it. He went back to Iraq in February."

His first involvement in combat came last summer, about 24 hours after his unit arrived at a base near the Iraqi border.

"They came under attack almost immediately," Pamela Adle-Watts said.

Athletic skills

Adle grew up on Birchwood Manor Lane near Bel Air. At Fallston High School, where he was a 2001 graduate, Adle is remembered for his exploits on the athletic fields.

"He was an average student," Michael Watts said. "He did good in some subjects and not so good in others that didn't interest him. He excelled in history and French. He was probably in the upper portion of his class."

He lettered in football and lacrosse all four years.

Dave Cesky, Fallston's football coach, remembered Adle as "an all-American kid." On the football team, he played running back and receiver on offense and defensive back.

"He was so enthusiastic and played so hard that I had to put him on the kickoff team," Cesky said.

Adle helped the Fallston Cougars to a state title in lacrosse in 2001. He played defense and was remembered for his aggressive play and leadership.

Fallston High's principal, Robert Pfau, said Adle was a popular student and one of eight in his graduating class to enlist in the Marines.

`Fallen Cougar'

The sign outside the school on Route 152 was changed yesterday to read: "Fallen Cougar USMC Patrick Adle 2001/June 29, 2004 Iraq."

On his 18th birthday, when Adle announced his intention to join the Marines, his mother and stepfather sought to discourage him. They wanted him to go to college and pursue his plans to become a schoolteacher and football coach.

The family reached a compromise. Adle joined a Marine Reserve unit and attended Harford Community College.

"He wanted to be in the infantry," his mother said. "We talked him into joining an engineering unit. We thought that would be more safe."

Adle's unit was called to active duty after his first semester at Harford Community College.

"Everyone loved him, and he loved everyone. He had no enemies. He was the life of the party," said Pamela Adle-Watts.

Adle's last message to his parents came in an e-mail Saturday. "He said he was going on a nine-day mission. `I love you, miss you a lot. Can't wait to get home. I will write when I get back to camp,'" his mother said.

He is also survived by a brother, Michael Adle Jr., and his father, Michael Adle, both of Bel Air.

Michael Watts said a funeral service would be held at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bel Air. The date has not been set. He said that Adle will be buried in a military service at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Rev. Kenneth Homer, pastor at Good Shepherd and an Army reservist, described Adle as an "authentically religious person who didn't try to get out of work details by going to church."

When Adle left for Iraq in February, Homer gave him one of the cloth crosses from an Army uniform shirt he wore in Bosnia. "I said his job was to keep the cross and bring it back to me safely."

Adle taped the cross into his helmet, his mother said.

"He loved the Marine Corps," Homer said, "but not in a bloodthirsty way. He thought he was helping the people of Iraq. He sincerely believed that."

Sun staff writer Patrick Tyler contributed to this article.

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