Waldorf man, 19, dies after combat in Afghanistan

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By Theresa Vargas
Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hours after Terry E. Honeycutt Jr. walked the stage with the first graduating class of North Point High School in Waldorf last year, he headed off to fulfill a dream he'd had since middle school. He went to boot camp.

The next day was his 18th birthday.

"The weekend before," his mother, Christine Honeycutt, recalled, "we had a graduation/birthday/going-away-to-boot camp party for him."

"Then, on graduation day, we came home, had some ice cream, some hugs and said our final good-byes. The recruiter picked him up a few hours later."

Lance Cpl. Terry Honeycutt of Waldorf died Wednesday. He was wounded Oct. 21 during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Defense Department announced Friday. He was 19 years old.

Relatives describe Honeycutt as musically gifted, so talented he taught himself to play the guitar and drums. From an early age, he had his sights set on the military. He was a member of the first ROTC class at his high school.

"We asked him why he wanted to be in the military one time, and he said, 'I want to make a difference in the world,' " his mother said. They supported his decision to join the Marines but worried about his choice to sign up for the infantry. "Every one of us tried at some point to talk him out of it."

His older sister, Dawn Clarke, recalled how, as children, they played soldiers and how he gravitated toward war-themed movies and video games. Her husband, Michael Clarke, a Marine, said Honeycutt would carry a Marine Corp key chain and talk about the military every chance he got.

"He always found honor in it," Michael Clarke said. "Although he died, it makes you proud. You have these other 19-year-olds overdosing, killing themselves, dying in car crashes. You don't find honor in those deaths."

In a recent letter home, Christine Honeycutt said her son wrote of enjoying his work in Afghanistan. When one team member got hurt, he said, it motivated others to continue. Honeycutt was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"Terry died doing what he wanted to be doing, and I don't think he was afraid to die," his mother said. "He knew possible traumatic injuries and possible death could be coming his way, but he took it all in stride. That was his job. That's what he wanted to do."

For his family, who recently returned from Germany where they said their good-byes, it is hard to accept that the child who in sixth grade knew what he wanted to be when he grew up is gone.

"We are very proud and love him very much. We miss him terribly," his mother said. "He's now our warrior angel."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

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