Eastern Shore Marine, 26, dies near Fallujah

April 26, 2005|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

WILLARDS - A 26-year-old Marine from this Eastern Shore farm community was killed Thursday near the town of Karmah in Iraq, becoming the 24th Maryland serviceman to die since U.S. forces invaded the country two years ago.

Family members said they were told that Pfc. Robert A. Guy had been shot outside the town northeast of Fallujah. But the Pentagon characterized his death as "the result of a non-hostile incident" that remains under investigation, Sgt. Ryan Scranton, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said yesterday.

The late Marine's mother, Ann R. Guy, said, "The officers who came to notify us on Friday said that it could have been friendly fire or some other accident. We won't know for sure until the investigation is finished."

Pfc. Guy was an assault infantryman who had talked about joining the Marine Corps since childhood. He signed up last March and was assigned to his unit in August. The family last saw him in January when he visited his hometown outside Salisbury.

He was due to return with his unit from Iraq in August, said his father, James A. Guy.

"Bobby was all man, but he was still my baby boy," he said of his 6-foot-4-inch son. "He was doing what he wanted, doing his duty for his country."

Relatives said Pfc. Guy would have been the first to concede that the Marine Corps turned him from a wild and stubborn young man, giving him focus and direction he had lacked since dropping out of Parkside High School in Salisbury.

He worked a variety of jobs while earning a high school equivalency certificate.

But "he found out that the military only takes a certain amount of GEDs each year," said James Guy, 56, who said his chronic back problems kept him from enlisting during the Vietnam War era. "I was so proud of him because he didn't give up. He kept trying, and it took two years before he could enlist."

Two blocks from the Guy family's small, weathered Cape Cod home, members of the Willards volunteer fire department have added a message to the usual notices about bingo night on the sign outside the fire house: "God Bless Our Hero Bobby Guy."

Linda Prettyman, cashier at the corner convenience store, E-Z Foods, said she had known the Marine since he was a youngster playing with her children and others in Willards, a small blue-collar town on the two-lane Old Ocean City Road.

Guy joined other kids who liked to shoot pool at the American Family Restaurant and play video games in a small arcade, said Prettyman.

"I've know the family so long, I used to baby-sit every once in a while when Bobby was little," said Prettyman, 47. "He wanted to join the Marines real bad. He was right here with all our kids. It makes you feel like it's one of your own."

Billy Croswell, 27, grew up a couple of blocks from the Guy family, a friend since fourth or fifth grade. "He was a little wild, but we all were," he said. "You know this kind of thing could happen in a war, but it's still a shock."

Ann Guy, 47, said her son was a changed man once he set his sights on a military career.

"Every time you turned around, Bobby was into something, into trouble," she said. "For a long time, the Marine Corps seemed like something unattainable to him until he got that GED. Then I never saw him as determined about anything else in his life."

She said she knew on Friday when there was a knock at her door that three uniformed Marines would have come only with bad news. "My husband has been home with a bad back; otherwise I'd have been here all by myself," she said. "That would have been too much."

In addition to his parents, Pfc. Guy is survived by his older brother, James A. Guy Jr. of Willards.

Funeral arrangements were not complete yesterday.

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