In February 2006 my son, Sgt. Jonathan Eric McColley was killed along with seven other Marines and two Airmen when his CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter collided with another one and went down off the coast of Djibouti, Africa.

Eric was born and raised in Gettysburg, and it was his home at the time of his death. That December, on Christmas Eve, my wife, Susan, and I went to the Giant Food Store on Route 30 and purchased all the Christmas wreaths they had left. On Christmas Day, we drove to Quantico National Cemetery, where Eric is interred, and placed the wreaths on Eric’s grave as well as all the adjoining graves in his section.

John McColley is a director of the Sgt. Mac Foundation.

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