Sgt. Foster L. Harrington
Marine killed in Iraq had been volunteer firefighter in Mobile
MOBILE, Ala. - Marine Sgt. Foster L. Harrington was more worried about his girlfriend and others in Mobile threatened by Hurricane Ivan last week than the dangers of Iraq, where he was sent about six weeks ago.
The U.S. Department of Defense announced Sept. 23 that Harrington, 31, died Sept. 20 in Anbar province, where he was fatally shot in combat.
"He helped anybody and everybody he could," said his girlfriend, Fran Poston.
Harrington, of Fort Worth, Texas, was assigned to the Marine Corps Reserve's 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, 4th Marine Division in Mobile.
While stationed in Mobile, he had for the last 18 months served as an unpaid volunteer firefighter and medic for the Seven Hills community near Mobile's airport.
"The last words he talked about, he said 'I'll be back,' and I said, 'Buddy, your gear is in the closet, it's yours and no one else is going take it," said Seven Hills Fire Chief Paul Newton. "He said, 'Okay, I'll be back to get it,' and he said, 'This is something I got to do, I want to go."'
He had 23 weeks of active duty remaining in Iraq when he was killed by enemy action.
"In the front of my mind, I didn't think he was going to go over there and get killed," Poston told WPMI-TV in Mobile in a report Sept. 23.
She said he worried about the hurricane that struck a week ago. "I said, 'Foster, you're in worse circumstances than I am, so why are you worried about me?' He said, 'Because I want to make sure you're taken care of. I'm okay where I'm at."'
Poston received her final phone call from Harrington on Sept. 19.
"He said he was sending me letters once a week. I should be getting some of his letters soon," Poston said. "He was a good kind soul, he really was. "I mean, people tend to elaborate when something happens, but that's not the case with him."
The Seven Hills Fire Department plans a memorial for him.
Harrington's body has been flown to Delaware, then will be moved to Fort Worth for services at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 28 at Greenwood Chapel. Burial will be in the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Survivors include a brother, Jason Harrington, of Fort Worth, and his grandfather, Daniel Davis, of Sunrise, Fla.Fallen Marine remembered at memorial service
- Associated Press
MOBILE, Ala. - Sgt. Foster L. Harrington was remembered Saturday as a brave Marine who died fighting for his country.
Harrington's service as a volunteer firefighter also was honored during a memorial service at Westwood Baptist Church in Seven Hills.
Harrington, 31, was killed Sept. 20 while fighting insurgents in Iraq's Anbar province.
He was a member of the Mobile-based 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, a Marine Reserve unit. He was also a medic and a firefighter with the Seven Hills Volunteer Fire Department.
Seven Hills Fire Chief Paul Newton fought back tears as he remembered Harrington at the memorial service.
"It was just like he was my son."
He pointed to Harrington's firefighting uniform and helmet, folded neatly beside the podium, and said, "This will be placed in our station. His number will be retired."
About two dozen Seven Hills firefighters attended the service, as did representatives of fire departments throughout the area.
Cpl. Brian Shettlesworth of the locally based Marine unit, told the audience, "He was one of the finest Marines I've ever met. I'll never forget him."
U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner of Mobile said Harrington gave his life "for the greatest nation in the world."
Bonner also said he entered a tribute to Harrington in the Congressional Record earlier this week.
Tom Walsh, the chaplain for the Seven Hills department, said Harrington grew up wanting to become a firefighter and a Marine.
"He lived his dream," Walsh said.
Harrington's funeral was held Tuesday in Fort Worth, Texas, the city where he had spent much of his life. He was buried in the National Cemetery in Grand Prairie, Texas.
The slain Marine moved to the Mobile area about 18 months ago and joined the Seven Hills firefighters. His parents were deceased, and he had no children. He was engaged to 26-year-old Fran Poston of the Seven Hills area. She sat on the front pew of the church during the service.Sgt. Foster L. Harrington
Mobile Register -- Sgt. Foster L. Harrington, 31, a member of the Mobile-based 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, an elite Marine Corps Reserve unit, was killed Monday in Iraq "due to enemy action," according to the Department of Defense.
The fighting took place in Al Anbar Province, the Defense Department said. Al Anbar Province is in western Iraq, comprising a large part of the so-called Sunni Triangle and embracing such insurgent hot spots as Ramadi and Fallujah.
Harrington is the sixth member of the armed forces from the Mobile area to be killed in Iraq.
As of Thursday, 1,041 American military men and women have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, according to Defense Department reports. More than 7,400 have been wounded.
Harrington's funeral is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Greenwood Funeral Home in Fort Worth, Texas, the city where he spent much of his life. Burial will be in the National Cemetery in Grand Prairie, Texas, with full military honors, a Marine Corps spokesman said.
Harrington was one of about 80 members of the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, which left Mobile in June for Camp Lejeune, N.C., to prepare for deployment to Iraq. A group of another 45 Marines from the same company has returned from Iraq after having left on active duty last January.
He had been in Iraq for about seven weeks, according to Miriam Sullivan of Mobile, the mother of Fran Poston, 26, to whom he was engaged.
Harrington moved to the Mobile area about 18 months ago, those who knew him said Thursday. He had been a firefighter and medic with the Seven Hills Volunteer Fire Department in west Mobile County before going on active duty with his Marine unit in June.
"The last time I talked to him was Sunday," Poston said in an interview at her west Mobile home. "He had called me every day for four straight days" when Hurricane Ivan was headed for the Mobile area.
"He wanted me to evacuate. I told him he didn't need to worry about me -- that I was in Mobile and he was in Iraq and that he needed to take care of himself," she said. The hurricane made landfall last week.
Poston, her eyes swollen from crying, said, "He died doing what he wanted to do. He loved what he did. He wanted to go."
During the interview, she wore a Marine Corps jersey he sent her after he went on active duty. A date for their wedding had not been set.
She said that Harrington considered Fort Worth to be his hometown. Her mother, Sullivan, said his family had moved there from New York when he was about 10.
Sullivan said his parents are deceased. She said Harrington had been in the Marine Corps Reserve for about 12 years.
Harrington's body was flown to the Air Force base at Dover, Del., and is to be flown to Fort Worth, Sullivan said.
"Sergeant Harrington was one of the finest people you'll ever meet," Paul Newton, the chief of the Seven Hills Volunteer Fire Department," said Thursday. "He never met a stranger. He was an excellent firefighter. He was an excellent medic. He was always ready to go to work. Everybody in the fire department thought the world of him."
Newton said that when Harrington turned in his gear at the fire department as he was about to go on active duty, "I said, 'Buddy, whenever you get home your gear is right here. Nobody is going to get your gear.'" He termed Harrington's death, "the worst shock this fire department has ever had."
The chief said the department will hold a memorial service locally for Harrington after his funeral in Texas.