December 24, 2006

Honoring a fallen academy classmate

Members of the Naval Academy Class of 1995 [gathered recently] to bid mournful yet fiercely grateful farewell to our recently departed member, Marine Corps Maj. Megan M. McClung.

Megan was killed in action Dec. 6 during operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. Megan is the first female graduate in the history of the academy to be killed in action.

Megan's lifetime of devotion to others in and out of uniform is a glowing touchstone to all 1,156 of her surviving classmates. In full measure, Megan's fulfillment of her Constitutional oath epitomized matching senses of honor and duty that boldly transcended self-interest.

Perpetually helping and encouraging others - indeed, a great many of us - when it would have been more expedient and career-enhancing to not share her talent and energy, is what we came long ago to implicitly associate with the mention of Megan's name. We all know this, but we also are emboldened by the countless signs from others worldwide who know the same to be so powerfully true.

Megan's physical absence is sublimely offset by the company of her spirit.

For the thousands of us whose lives Megan improved and uplifted, it belabors the obvious to observe that she was a uniquely enthusiastic, compassionate, strong, intellectual, witty, and unconditionally loyal human being.

Now and forevermore, we find a strength in her memory that defies enumeration and that perfectly illuminates our chosen motto: non sibi sed patriae, words engraved on the Academy Chapel doors that translate to "not self, but country."

The noble memory of her deeds and her exceptionally abiding devotion to so many people and principles will remain a guidepost to all of us and so many others. Above all, the memory of these things will forever bring empowering honor to the family, friends, colleagues, class, academy, Corps, naval service and nation she loved so much and did so much for.

The class continues to accompany Megan's loved ones with our most earnest thoughts and prayers, most especially her parents, and her colleagues still serving under fire.

To Megan's creator and her surviving family, we offer our eternal thanks. To our beloved sister classmate, we offer our undying esteem and grateful affection. We love you and we will miss you, Megan.

On behalf of the class, Semper Fidelis, fair winds and following seas.

John I. Fleet III

The writer is president of the Naval Academy Class of 1995.

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