LCpl. Luke B. Holler
Died: November 02, 2006
21, of Bulverde, Texas; assigned to the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, San Antonio; killed Nov. 2 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.
Luke Holler remembered by parents
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
BULVERDE - John and Ruth Holler had been counting the days until they saw their son return from Iraq.
"We truly thought he would come home in March," said Ruth, the mother of Lance Cpl. Luke B. Holler, 21, a Marine reservist from Bulverde.
Last week, Luke left Iraq for what John and Ruth hope is a better place than even they could provide.
Luke was killed Thursday by a roadside bomb in western Iraq's Al-Anbar province while soldiers were extracting his unit from a reconnaissance mission. Luke was the ninth Marine from San Antonio's 4th Reconnaissance Battalion to die in Iraq since the March 20, 2003, invasion of the country.
The Bulverde couple received the chilling news that their son wasn't coming home early Friday when two Marines showed up on their doorstep. Since then, they've been trying to make sense of the death of their son, but say they have been surrounded by family, friends and support from the Marine Corps to help them through their grief.
The grieving but proud Marine mom said Luke told her that he wanted to join the Marines because he wanted to join the hardest branch of the military.
"I need to do this - I want to serve my country," she said he told his parents. "If I'm going to do it, I want the toughest."
Ruth said her son needed structure and that he was "very social in school," a sentiment echoed by Craig Walker, administrator of Bracken Christian School, where Luke graduated from in 2003.
"I remember Luke as a happy student. A lot of the students liked Luke," Walker said.
Luke's sister, Rebekah, said she remembered Luke as the "class clown."
After high school, Luke attended San Antonio College and then worked at different jobs in San Antonio for a year before going to boot camp.
Luke graduated from boot camp on Nov. 5, 2004, a date that holds special meaning to Luke's family and fiancee, Jessica Coker.
"That was the date Jessica, Luke's longtime love, and he decided would be their dating anniversary date," Ruth said.
According to Ruth, the year Luke went into the Marines he did nothing but train for his chosen specialty - reconnaissance - going from one school to the next all over the country.
Ruth said Luke went away to boot camp "with insecurities about himself, but when he came back, he was a man, secure in himself. He loved the Marines."
But he also loved his fiancee and had decided not to make the military a career. They had planned to get married once he got out of the Marines and, according to Rebekah, Luke had been saving up for the ring.
Funeral services for Lance Cpl. Luke Holler are pending at Eagle's Nest Church in San Antonio.
Bracken Christian School will hold a tribute to veterans on Friday before Veterans Day, and Luke will be honored at the event. The ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the school gym, located at 670 Old Boerne Road, just west of U.S. 281. The public is invited to attend.
Luke Holler remembered by parents
Sunday, November 05, 2006
A San Antonio Marine reservist described as "happy-go-lucky" by one comrade was killed Thursday in Iraq when a roadside bomb struck his patrol.
Lance Cpl. Luke Benjamin Holler, 21, died on combat duty in western Iraq's Anbar province, a volatile area where soldiers and Marines have battled a lethal mix of Baathist guerrillas and terrorists. He was the 25th San Antonian killed in Iraq. Four others have died in Afghanistan since 9-11.
"He was very happy-go-lucky, just a great kid," said Staff Sgt. Edward Cruz, who helped prepare Holler for duty in Iraq. "Very intelligent, and he was very dedicated in what he did."
Holler is the ninth Marine from the San Antonio-based 4th Reconnaissance Battalion to die in Iraq since the March 20, 2003, invasion.
The recon battalion offered few details of his death Friday, declining to identify the location of where the attack occurred. Cruz said that information could jeopardize Marine recon operations, which focus on gathering intelligence and then reporting it.
"We can't name the town, especially with the reconnaissance assets there," Cruz explained.
Holler's parents declined to be interviewed as the day ended, but he was known to be a motivated and meticulous Marine. Cruz, who helps Marines at the battalion attend specialty schools as well as prepping them for deployment overseas, said Holler was a serious student with "fantastic confidence."
Over his two years with the San Antonio recon battalion, Holler had spent nearly three months in the basic reconnaissance course, three weeks at jump school in Fort Benning, Ga., and nine weeks at a dive school in the Florida Panhandle. He had been to survival, evasion, resistance and escape training, as well as an amphibious reconnaissance course.
As training ensued last summer, Cruz said neither Holler nor his fellow Marines appeared worried about their upcoming mission to Anbar, whose capital, Ramadi, is under constant fire. Parts of the province are controlled by Islamic insurgents waging jihad on American and Iraqi forces.
"Their biggest concern was being able to perform above and beyond. They never had an opinion about the politics of the war," Cruz recalled. "Their concern was the mission at hand, the training involved and just completing the job."
Holler's death wasn't listed late Friday by the Pentagon's Web site, but Defense Department records indicate he is the seventh Marine to die in Anbar since Oct. 27. In that time, 12 other soldiers and Marines have been killed in Iraq, bringing the military death toll to 2,817 since the invasion.
October was the fourth-deadliest month of the war, with 103 troops lost, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Casualties have been up since U.S. and Iraqi troops began combat operations in Baghdad last summer. But firefights, mortaring and roadside bomb attacks are a daily occurrence in Anbar, whose population of 1.3 million is one-fourth that of Baghdad.
As the weekend began, there was no word on plans for Holler's services. The last San Antonian buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, Joe Anthony Narvaez, 25, was killed Oct. 2 by a sniper in Baghdad. It was his second tour of Iraq.
This was Holler's first time in Iraq, and he had been there just three months.
Though training continued as usual at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center across from Brooke Army Medical Center, it did so on a somber note.
"Anyone's sad by the loss of any Marine," Cruz said. "Everyone was hit hard by it, but like everything else, it goes along with the work."
PGR: Mission Complete: Lance Corp. Luke B. Holler
Yesterday, on Veterans's Day, I rode with the Patriot Guard Riders to pay final respects to 21-year old Lance Corporal Luke B. Holler of Bulverde, TX.
The outpouring of love and respect from this young Marine's local community was overwhelming - the large church parking lot was filled to overflowing... which included a chartered bus of Marines who came to say goodbye to their brother.
As always, we formed a corridor of flags at the church - when the Marines approached, the ranking officer (a Lt. Col.) walked our formation and shook the hand of each and every PGR rider (at least 80). And it was a sincere handshake; the Lt. Col. firmly shook my hand and paused long enough to look me square in the eye and express his thanks.
The Lt. Col. was followed down the line by nearly an entire Company of Marines. When a Marine in his dress blues extends that kind of honor and gratitude to a bunch of old bikers... it was one of the many truly humbling moments of the day.
From the church, the Patriot Guard Riders were asked by the family of Lance Corp. Holler to join in the procession to his final resting place at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery - about a 12 mile ride from the church. We were asked to join in directly behind the hearse and the family vehicles - a humbling place of honor in the nearly 3-mile long procession.
These processions are always very emotional for me. I try to pick a spot near the end of the line of bikes... I love the view of nearly 80 motorcycles in a staggered formation. But more than that, I'm thankful for the slow moving procession that allows me to take note of the people who are watching us pass.
Most people seem to understand the solemnity of the procession; people stop their cars on the side of the road, some get out and place their hands over their hearts. I saw an old man cutting his grass stop and render a long, slow salute as we passed... probably an old Veteran himself, judging from the his posture and the crispness of his salute.
On this crisp, sunny day in San Antonio, the passing of Lance Corp. Luke Holler did not go unnoticed by his community. Which is how it should be... I believe it's important to bear witness to these events; we cannot let the death and burial of one of our defenders go unnoticed.