|Tuesday, 25-Oct-2005 00:00
SSgt Nick Pummill
Recruiter sought combat role
Anderson Twp. Marine killed in Iraq spurred by 9/11
By Steve Kemme
Enquirer staff writer
ANDERSON TWP. - Rick Pummill was a U.S. Marine recruiter when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred.
When the United States began its war with Iraq, he was still a recruiter.
Pummill, intensely patriotic and energetic, couldn't stand it any more.
The Anderson Township native gave up the safe, sedate job of recruiting to prepare for combat.
"He said he was tired of sitting on the sidelines," said his mother, Lynn Pummill. "He couldn't wait to go over there."
Pummill, a Marine first sergeant, died in Iraq on Thursday along with two other Marines when an explosive device hit their Humvee that was part of a convoy traveling about 25 miles west of Baghdad.
Pummill had been in Baghdad since July.
Lynn Pummill learned of her son's death from two Marines who came to her Anderson Township apartment at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Numb with grief, she stayed up all night. When she finally went to bed at 6 a.m. Friday, she slept only two hours. She said she's still trying to absorb the tragic news.
"I keep waiting for the Marines to call me and tell me they made a mistake and that he's still alive," Pummill said.
Rick Pummill's wife, Chantel, lives in Jacksonville, N.C., where the Marines' Camp Lejeune is located. He leaves a 3-year-old son, Donald Richard "Cliff" Pummill, who lives with Pummill's first wife in Norfolk, Va. He was also close to his grandparents, Donald and Ann Lesher, of Anderson Township.
On Friday afternoon, Lynn Pummill, teary-eyed, sat on her couch. Her friend, Patsy Hager of Mount Washington, and her son's best friend, John Morgan Jr., were there to comfort her.
"The day Rick went into the military, he gave me his spare dog tag," said Morgan, who had known him since they were 4 years old. "I've had it on my key chain every since."
He joined the Marines after graduating from Anderson High School in 1996. He spent his last two years in high school attending Scarlet Oaks Joint Vocational School.
Rick Pummill, whose great-grandfather was a Marine, was a stocky, muscular guy who played football and wrestled at Anderson High School.
Morgan described him as a generous, compassionate man who deeply valued family and friends and loved his country.
Pummill's mother said he didn't talk a whole lot about himself when he'd call her from Iraq. He wanted to know about family and friends. She last talked to him Tuesday night.
"He called just to make sure everything was OK," she said. "He was in good spirits."
She said her son didn't understand why some Americans oppose the war in Iraq.
"He had very strong convictions," Lynn Pummill said. "He'd say, 'Did they forget about 9/11?' "