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Old 08-28-2009, 09:56 AM
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LCpl Donald J. Hogan, USMC, 20, San Clemente, CA (Afghanistan)

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Marine killed in Afghanistan bomb blast 'was a beautiful kid'
Donald Hogan, who ran cross country at Tesoro High, died Wednesday.

The Orange County Register

A Tesoro High School graduate who wanted to be a Marine like his grandfather was killed in a roadside bomb explosion Wednesday morning in southern Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Donald J. Hogan, 20, of San Clemente was on a foot patrol at the time of the blast, which also injured several other Marines, said a spokesman for the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton.

“He was a beautiful kid,” Jim Hogan said on the phone today from Dover, Del., where he had gone to see the transfer of his son's body at Dover Air Force Base. “He ran cross country at Tesoro High School. He wasn't very good at it but he always showed up and competed.”

Donald was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.

On Sunday, Donald called his mother for the first time since deploying to Afghanistan in June, and left her a message.

“He said that he was safe and that he was OK,” Jim Hogan said. “And (that) he loved us and not to worry. He missed us.”

Donald joined the Marines soon after graduating in 2007 “because he wanted to do something different in his life,” Hogan said. “He was pretty happy go lucky and had a lot of friends. His whole dream was to one day join the Marine Corps.”

A career Marine, Donald's grandfather James Hogan Sr. retired as a gunnery sergeant and was a veteran of three wars – World War II, Korean and Vietnam. “He wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Jim Hogan said.

The father and son had talked about death. “He was aware of the dangers. (But) if he was worried about it, he didn't let me know about it,” Jim Hogan said.

Stacy Ruffer, a teacher and head cross country and track coach at Tesoro, said Donald ran for him during his junior and senior years and always gave his best.

“He was a coach’s dream,” Ruffer said. “He tried to be a mentor to a lot of younger kids on the track.”

Donald competed on the junior varsity team at the high school and told his coach that he planned to join the Marines.

“I thought it was a good fit for him,” Ruffer said.

“He always had a very positive attitude. When we’d be out there in 90-degree weather and running six to 10 miles, we would come back and even after this exhausting workout, he’d have fun playing with the other kids.”

Donald's body is expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base today and the military will bring him home for services in San Clemente. This was his first tour of duty and he deployed with his unit to Afghanistanin the past few months, said Cpl. Shawn Coolman, a 1st Marine Division spokesman.

Donald was on foot patrol in the Nawa District of Helmand province when an improvised explosive device blew up nearby, Coolman said. It was not immediately known if Donald died at the scene.

Donald joined the Marine Corps on Nov. 5, 2007. He had received the Combat Action Ribbon, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, Coolman said.
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