Last updated: August 25. 2013 4:19AM - 193 Views

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   OHIO CITY -- The last time Eldona Wagonrod heard from her son, Christian Daniel Gurtner, was on Feb. 6. His ship, the USS Comstock, made an unscheduled stop, and he was able to call her. Later that month, he landed in Kuwait where he was a part of the Marine 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.    Wednesday morning, Gurtner, of Ohio City, died from an accidental gunshot from his own weapon while he was on a mission in Iraq. Gurtner, 19, was a 2002 graduate of Van Wert High School.    "He was excited and anticipating his mission in Iraq," Wagonrod said. "He was good to go; that's what he had been trained for."    Wagonrod said on Friday afternoon that her son was influenced to go into the Marines after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.    "He wanted people to have the privileges of life that he had," said Wagonrod. "He had a commitment to the Marines, and he had a commitment to his family and friends. He knew what he had, and he was proud of it."    Wagonrod was wearing a T-shirt that read, "My son, one of the few, the proud, a Marine mom." Gurtner was the product of a long line of military service in his family. His grandfather was in the Air Force, his great-grandfather was in World War II, and his great-great-grandfather was in World War I and World War II. In addition, his great-uncle served in the Marines in Vietnam.    "He was proud of his family heritage, but I don't think that's what influenced him to become a Marine," Wagonrod said. "He went into the Marines because he felt his own personal commitment to serve our country."    Gurtner, the son of Gary and Eldona Wagonrod, was the first Ohioan serving in Iraq to be killed, according to the Marines.    "We are very proud of Christian's decision to be a Marine," Wagonrod said. "We and all of our family supported his choice because he knew what he wanted. He was willing to do what was needed to be done. Christian was a Marine through and through. He loved his country; he loved bowling, and he loved his Braves and Buckeyes.    "Our family loved and admired Christian for his belief and dedication to duty. Christian's reason for being a Marine was to give everyone hope of a life that he had had."    Marine Chief Warrant Officer Suzanne Handshoe said that Gurtner died on April 2 from an accidental gunshot that entered his right chest and exited the left shoulder. He died of cardiac arrest.    Handshoe read a letter from 2nd Lt. Brett Eubank which referred to Gurtner as a valuable asset to the third platoon. Eubank said that Gurtner had contributed both skills and hard work to his unit.    Wagonrod said that President George Bush and Gurtner's fellow Marines -- and all troops -- have their family's full support.    "We pray that no other families will have to face what we are facing right now," Wagonrod said. "We would like to thank all of our family and friends for all of the support we have received. The people of Ohio City and Van Wert have been wonderful. We would also like to thank the media for respecting our wishes.    "I am a Marine mom; I will move on -- day by day," Wagonrod said.     

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