US Marine EOD Sgt Daniel J. Patron died on August 6, 2011 as he was attempting to disarm an IED in Sangin, Afghanistan. But his legacy was not lost – 10 years later, at least 200 people gathered in front of his high school alma mater to remember both him and the mission created by his Mom in his honor: Operation Flags of Freedom.
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Operation Flags of Freedom began the Memorial Day after Sgt Patron’s death, when his Mom Kathy asked how they could never forget Daniel. She created a nonprofit that places flags at over 100 events in Ohio each year – it seemed fitting to remember a Marine like Sgt Patron. On Saturday, August 21, 2021, a memorial was held to remember him in Perry Township, Ohio.
Instead, it was time to remember and honor Daniel Patron. The fun-loving kid with a killer smile; the teen who played in the high school band and sang in the choir; the guy who loved Norcia Bakery, mashed potatoes and gravy and rescue dogs; the son who loved his parents, Kathy and Frank; the sibling who loved his brother, Matt; and the husband who loved his wife, Cody.
Toohey, Dana and others, including Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry, took turns at the podium. They used words like patriot, role model, leader and honor, in describing Daniel Patron, a 2003 Perry High School graduate.
He served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan during his eight years in the military…
In fact, he was to leave the Marines in July of 2011. But he elected to extend his deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom. He was killed Aug. 6 while trying to defuse a roadside bomb at 11:19 a.m. Saturday in Sangin, in Helmand province.
“He died doing what he loved … protecting our country,” Catazaro-Perry said.Stars and Stripes
His first 4 years in the Marine Corps were spent in the Marine Corps Band. Then he trained for the EOD unit and spent 4 more years being deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.
In January 2012, the Marine Corps held a memorial service for Sgt Patron. It was the first time Daniel’s comrades would be able to say goodbye. Kathy Patron was there but was nervous about the meeting. She was able to meet the partner of her son who stood only 22 feet away from the blast when he was killed: Sgt Jason Slattery.
No parent can ever forget the death of a child. Gold Star parents Kathy and her husband honor the legacy of Sgt Daniel Patron by the nonprofit filling places and events with thousands of American flags. Knowing that Afghanistan is once again in the hands of terrorists, the only thing she told Stripes was that it was all “very ironic.”
”The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
Featured photo: Sgt Daniel Patron (USMC photo), and screenshot of The Repository photo by Bob Rossiter. The unidentified Marine is giving spent shell casings to Kathy Patron from the 21 gun salute at his funeral.
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