US Marine Escapes Death in Iraq, KIA in Afghanistan

Every now and then it is good to take note of the human side of the fallen:

Web Posted: 08/17/2009 5:15 CDT
Life of fallen Marine celebrated

By Scott Huddleston - Express-News

Hundreds of San Antonians gathered Monday to honor a local Marine who made a lot of friends in his short life before making a supreme sacrifice in battle.

Some 300 people gathered in the heat to say farewell to Lance Cpl. Travis Babine, the sixth San Antonian to die in service in Afghanistan, at a graveside service at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. The Rev. Linda Ricketts declared Monday a “holy day” to remember a bright young man who hoped to make a difference in the world.

“Travis, we love you and we hold you in the deep recesses of our hearts,” Ricketts said.

The afternoon burial service wrapped up a four-day period of citywide grieving that began Friday, when thousands of San Antonians lined the streets near Lackland AFB as Babine's remains arrived and were taken to a local funeral home.

Businesses and government offices flew flags at half-staff Monday to honor Babine, a 2007 graduate of Castle Hills First Baptist School.

He and his family and friends were celebrating a month ago, after he and four Marines survived a July 17 explosion while riding in an MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle in Farah province in southwestern Afghanistan. It seemed like a miracle that they lived after one of the vehicle's rear wheels rolled over a pressure plate that detonated a mine.

Babine, 20, and three other Marines were in a Humvee when a similar bomb blast killed them less than three weeks later, on Aug. 6.

Named for Alamo commander William Barret Travis, Babine was born at Fort Belvoir, Va. and lived in various places in the United States and Korea before his family settled in San Antonio in 1996.

Speaking to well over 500 mourners early Monday at Christ Episcopal Church, his mother, Alice Babine, said her son loved to pretend to be action heroes as a boy. Her favorite was his portrayal of Batman.

“And as he played those roles, he sought his place in the world,” she said.

Shortly after he committed himself to a Christian life in his sophomore year of high school, Babine decided to join the Marine Corps. He scored so well on entry exams that he could have chosen any career path. But he selected infantry service — “the essence of being a Marine,” his mother said.

His father, Bill Badger, told mourners that even though Babine didn't live long enough to have a steady girlfriend, he found a true calling with the Marines, and even tried to get consecrated bread sent to the Middle East, so he could serve communion to his friends.

“They respected him for his goodness and dedication to duty,” Badger said.

Babine's unit, based at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, deployed in May as part of a surge of 21,000 U.S. troops sent to Afghanistan, which will hold a presidential election on Thursday. His mother would close each letter she sent to him overseas with, “I love you son, and I will see you in Hawaii in December.”

Determined to use her faith as a source of strength, Alice Babine told mourners she still looks forward to being reunited with her son.

“Today I say to Travis, ‘I love you son, and I will see you in heaven.'”

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