An article on March 29 misspelled the last name of a Marine missing in Iraq. He is Cpl. Kemaphoom A. Chanawongse. (Published 3/30/03) : Patrick R. Nixon, a casualty of the war in Iraq who was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, was a corporal in the Marines, a Corps spokeswoman said yesterday. Nixon's rank was incorrect in articles and photo captions that appeared March 29, March 30, April 2, April 6, April 13 and April 18. (Published 4/19/03)
Carolyn Hutchings was falling asleep in her favorite chair when a soft knocking at the door stirred her. She cleared her eyes, looked up, and saw the two Marines at her door, "all dressed up," she said yesterday. "And you know what that means."
She let them into the house in Boiling Springs, S.C., on Wednesday night and listened to them say that the status of her son, Pvt. Nolen Ryan Hutchings, of Boiling Springs, had become "duty, status, whereabouts unknown" somewhere in Iraq. In other words, she said, "he is missing in action."
Nolen Hutchings, 20, was one of eight Marines the Pentagon has listed as missing after a battle Sunday with Iraqi forces near Nasiriyah. That number included six of his fellow Marines in the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, based on Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Also missing were Pfc. Tamario D. Burkett, 21, of Buffalo; Cpl. Kemaphoom A. Chanwongse, 22, of Waterford, Conn.; and Lance Cpl. Donald J. Cline Jr., 21, of Sparks, Nev.
The others missing from that unit were Pvt. Jonathan L. Gifford, 30, of Macon, Ill.; Lance Cpl. Patrick R. Nixon, 21, of Nashville; and Lance Cpl. Michael J. Williams, 31, of an unidentified town in Arizona.
The eighth Marine listed is Lance Cpl. Thomas A. Blair, 24, of Broken Arrow, Okla. He is assigned to the 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Air Control Group-28, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, based in Cherry Point, N.C.
"I'd seen it on TV," Hutchings said of the formal military visitors. "It's just like the movies. It's an awful feeling. I was by myself. I called my husband and paced around the house and went crazy."
Hutchings said the Marines told her that her son was part of a group that was told to secure a bridge near Nasiriyah, and that they encountered what appeared to be Iraqi civilians seeking to surrender but were surprised when the men opened fire.
"They had uniforms underneath their clothes," Hutchings said she was told. "Eleven soldiers were killed. Eight soldiers ran to a more secure area. No one has seen them since."
Hutchings said her son always wanted to be a Marine, working out with weights in his junior and senior years at Boiling Springs High School to prepare. She said he has "a big heart," so big that he would give away treats to friends until he had none.
"From what I hear about the people who took him, the fedayeen, they kill people," she said. "I am praying. I want to have hope."
Donna Berg said her co-workers at Wal-Mart in Nashville heard that Patrick Nixon was missing and called to tell her. Since that moment yesterday, she had been crying. Berg was like a mother to Nixon, who came to live with her after his biological mother died six years ago from an illness.
"He was -- is -- the prototypical Irishman," Berg said. "He was impulsive, very, very proud, and proud to be a U.S. Marine. That was his dream ever since he was a little fella."
Nixon and Berg's son, Jonathan, joined the Marines at the same time and ended up at Camp Lejeune. Nixon is in Iraq "because he wanted to serve," she said.
She closed her eyes and said she could see Nixon in his favorite spot, her porch overlooking the Radnor Lake State Natural Area. "He would look into the trees and say, 'When I have to find my happy place, I come here.' ''
Berg now hopes that Nixon will find that place in Iraq. "When you have a child in the position they are in," Berg said, her voice on the edge of sobbing, "you never want to get a call."