Family Member Of Marine Speak Out

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 8:31 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Family Member Of Marine Speak Out

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 8:31 AM EDT

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. –( release) Lance Cpl. Philip M. Bushong, 23, of Lockport, N.Y. died while on a leave status in the Washington, D.C. area April 21, 2012.

The incident is currently under investigation by the District of Columbia’s Metro Police Department.

Bushong was a riflemen assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. He joined the Marine Corps in March, 2008 and was promoted to the rank of lance corporal in June, 2009.
He deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit as a member of BLT 2/2 from March, 2011 to February, 2012.

His awards include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

April 24, 2012
Statement from Michael Bushong, father of Philip Bushong
Written in response to the horrific event that took my son on April 21, 2012

Son: Lance Cpl. Philip Michael Bushong, USMC
Date of Birth: July 11, 1988 in Dana Point, CA
Father: Michael Bushong, originally from Sacramento, CA, currently from Broad Brook, CT, where I reside with Phil’s 20 yr. old brother Keenan Bushong

Philip is formally from…
1988 – 1993 Dana Point, CA
1993 – 1995 Pembroke, MA
1995 – 2007 Vernon, Ellington and Enfield - attended Fermi High School
2007 – 2008 Lockport, NY
2008 – 2012 USMC
·Parris Island

·Camp Lejeune

·Marine Barracks Washington “8th & I”, Marine Color Guard - two years, from late 2008 - 2011

-Camp Lejeune, Deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East at a time when our country was deeply immersed in the war against terrorism, post 9-11, Philip chose to do his part and joined the Marines.

He entered the Marines struggling to find his identity and quickly matured into a strong and focused man, ready to do whatever the Corps asked of him. In early February, Philip returned from his deployment to the Mediterranean as part of the 22nd MEU … the tip of the spear as he would put it. The first ones in to any conflict that might arise.

Prior to that deployment, Philip was hand-picked (6’7”, lean and handsome) to be part of the Washington DC Color Guard stationed at 8th & I. He was proud to be in the Color Guard and was a very busy part of President Obama’s inauguration ceremonies -- including carrying the flag in the parade and multiple inaugural balls that followed.

Philip was very familiar with this Barracks Row area and had become a well-known and very popular patron in the local pubs. While he was stationed in DC, he met the love of his life and planned to move to DC to start the next chapter of his life with her. He was poised to enroll in George Mason University. His family and friends could not be more proud of him.

Philip is remembered by friends and family as someone who lived life to the fullest every day. Smiling all the time and ready to make you smile with his wit and sense of humor. He was always the center of attention wherever he went and people from all walks gravitated to him. He was considered a “best friend” to many. So many of his friends have contacted me and I’m overwhelmed by statements that describe Philip as someone loved and cherished by those he touched.

Philip was also known to dazzle friends with his virtuosity on the guitar, a passion he kept alive while in the Marines. I recall how thrilled he was to receive my gift of a travel guitar that he could take on his mission overseas and have room to practice in the cramped bunks of the Navy Aircraft carrier he was on for ten and a half months. Remember, he’s 6’7’’.

His talent and potential had just started to be tapped and we all were so thrilled that he had survived his four years in the Marines and had such amazing plans. The grief and pain is overwhelming and so much more than anyone could have expected.

The violent crime committed that took my son’s life was so pointless and too horrifying to imagine. Thinking of a single stab wound from a pocket knife directly through the Marine Emblem tattoo that Philip proudly had placed directly over his heart, to show his love for the Marines, is more than I -- or anyone -- can comprehend. My prayers go out to everyone who experienced the shock and horror when they heard of this tragedy.

Although difficult for me, I will trust the justice system to process the perpetrator of this crime to the full extent of the law. My concern lies with the media’s infatuation with hate crimes and the focus on that in the reporting of my son’s death.

The statement from Lt. Alder of the DC Metro PD, as reported by the Washington Blade, sums it up nicely… “’From what we know, the argument was not over sexual orientation,’ Alder told the media. ‘And I would say at this time the information that we have appears to show that it was an insult in the heat of their argument and did not have anything to do with any perceived sexual orientation,’ he said.”

While serving his country, Philip was recognized with the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal. Also, Philip was recognized when he subdued a weapon that was malfunctioning and firing randomly. In the process the weapon split his finger to the knuckle as Philip potentially saved the lives of those around him at the firing range.

Ironically, or sadly, Philip was scheduled to receive his Honorable Discharge on April 26, 2012. He was planning on a quick trip to New England to visit his brother and me. With Philip stateside, I had let my guard down assuming he was out of harm’s way. I’m certain that most of his family and friends were also relieved that he was home and away from the front line.

When the Marines arrived to deliver the news Saturday morning, it could not have been more shocking and paralyzing.

Lastly, the Marine Corps support for our loss has been beyond all expectations and we could not have dealt with this tragedy without their help.

It cannot be overstated that the Marine Corps is the reason that my son developed into the respectful, focused, strong, wise and thoughtful man he had become. His experiences were character-building and molded him. He was prepared for the rest of his life… Optimistic, excited and desiring to make a difference.

He will be missed forever and by so many. I regret that more people did not have the blessing of getting to know Philip. Their lives would have been enriched.

While I understand the media’s interest in reporting this story, I ask that you respect the privacy of my family and Philip’s loved ones at this time.

This statement serves as the only comment we will provide at this time.