Lance Cpl. Nate Salatin, USMC, age 21. Augusta County, VA. Deployed to Iraq on Tuesday, 12 September 2006.
Nate ... a special young man to me.
Nate came into my life when he was 11 years old and I was teen coordinator for the local home school group. He was outgoing, a natural leader, a go-getter who was great at sports, public speaking, leadership ... anything he tried he strived to be the very best.
He was a star soccer player ... President of the Virginia State 4-H 2003-04 ... member of the Home School Envirothon Team that took 2nd place in the Nation in 2004 ... natural public speaker winning many 4-H competitions ... Steve Landes' campaign manager in 2003 ... and much more.
He's an example of the young people in this country who are willing to lay their lives on the line to keep us safe. He grew up in a missionary family and, yet, he understands the importance of fighting the Muslim terrorists on their soil ... and not here on ours.
Nate grew up during the 10 years I worked with the teens. Several years ago he taught a public speaking class for our home school students ... I took it with them. A shy student during my school years who literally took zeros rather than give an oral book report, Nate gave me the tools to public speaking and opened a whole new world to me.
Nine months later, his graduating class asked me to be their speaker. I've spoken a number of times since at various events ... the last being at the PEACH Class of 2006 graduation in June when I recognized Nate as an alumni, for his service in the Marines, and that he was going to deploy to Iraq in September.
After graduating from high school, Nate joined the Marines and went to boot camp. Afterwards, he entered Virginia Military Institute where he excelled in his studies and got one year under his belt before his Marine Unit was activated in June 2006.
There's a gloomy cloud over me this week that is hard to shake. Tears come quickly. He's gone. After months of training and more training ... he's finally gone. I've busied myself by planting mums in my flower boxes ... I've spent hours working at GOP headquarters ... I've done any and everything I could to keep my mind off him. But it hasn't worked.
I pray God keeps him safe and strong. I pray God gives his family strength to endure his absence the next year.
Nate ... we love you. Be safe. We are so proud of you. And thank you for your service.