FORWARD OPERATING BASE ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq -- Fellow leathernecks and friends gathered here Oct. 21 to honor the life of Lance Cpl. Brian K. Schramm, who was killed a week earlier during a mortar attack in south-central Iraq.
At a memorial service, the Marines of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, remembered the 22-year-old native of Rochester, N.Y., for his can-do attitude and his disciplined work ethic.
"He was the best crewman I've ever worked with, probably one of the best I've ever met," said Cpl. Justin D. Taylor, an Amphibian Assault Vehicle crew chief from Savannah, Ga. "We had been together since February, and he was a good guy and a really hard worker. I've told him to stop working, walked away and came back only to find him working again."
Taylor was sitting with Schramm moments before the attack Oct. 15. Taylor had just walked off to speak with another Marine when he heard what he believed to be outgoing artillery rounds. The noise turned out to be incoming enemy mortar fire.
Schramm was hit while trying to seek cover in his vehicle as the mortars -- 12 total -- continued to fall.
Taylor watched his friend and fellow Marine drop to the ground from 30 feet away. As another Marine rushed to Schramm's aid, Taylor ran to find medical assistance for him. The explosion killed Schramm.
Schramm was the fourth member of BLT 1-2 - the ground combat element of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit - killed in Iraq since the MEU arrived in July.
While Schramm was admired for his technical skills and work ethic, fellow Marines will also miss his good-natured manner.
"He was goofy, always joking around and enjoying his friends' company," said Taylor, who reflected about their karaoke singing inside their AAV and the overzealous way he responded to questions having to do with his work, often yelling responses unnecessarily loudly to make sure he was heard.
Beyond all else, the loss would be felt deeply by those who would remember him for just being a good friend.
"He always made the best of a bad situation, and he would've given you the shirt off his back if you didn't have one," said Cpl. Jesse Wells, an AAV crew chief from Kennett, Mo. "That's who he was. He helped his friends and fellow Marines out all the time."
In a final tribute, Wells, Schramm's former roommate and friend, pinned the insignia of a corporal on the fallen Marine as he was transported to medical facilities. Schramm would have earned the chevrons in a promotion ceremony the following month.