Friends remember local marine

Elise Franco

Cuyahoga Falls High School students silently watch the street as the funeral procession of Marine Sgt. Justin Walsh nears the high school. Walsh, 24, a former Cuyahoga Falls High School football player and wrestler, died Oct. 11 at the National Naval Medi

Credit: Jason Hall

Sgt. Justin Walsh was a man who risked and lost his life for his friends, family and what he believed in, because that’s what he thought was right, said childhood friend Jason McGee.

McGee, sports and recreation management graduate student, has known Walsh since they wrestled together in seventh grade. He said he was the type of person who could have done anything he wanted.

“He was really involved in everything in high school. We wrestled and played football together, but being a Marine is what he wanted to do,” he said. “He felt that it was his calling.”

Walsh, 24, of Cuyahoga Falls was on his third tour of duty in Iraq as an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He was injured Oct. 5 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. While disarming a roadside bomb, a second went off nearby. He was taken to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he died on Oct. 11.

“Justin had the biggest heart out of anyone I’ve ever known,” Mcgee said. “He was a respectful guy who will be remembered by everyone as a hero.”

Andrew Duhon said he had also known Walsh since they played football together in seventh grade. Duhon described him as a strong person mentally, as well as physically, and a great motivator.

“The Marines was a perfect fit for him,” he said. “Justin was a leader. He was able to motivate everyone he was around, and he always got the most out of you.”

Duhon said in high school, Walsh loved playing football and wrestling, as well as being with his friends. More than anything, he loved the Marines.

“I think it was always his dream to join,” he said.

Duhon, who is now a sophomore majoring in Middle Eastern studies at Ohio State, was in the Navy for four years and is now training to become a Marine officer.

“I hope that when I am an officer I have Marines who are like Justin, who go out and put 100 percent into everything they do.”

Walsh will be buried at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. McGee said he and his brother, Will, as well as Walsh’s family and other close friends, will be attending the ceremony.

Duhon and another friend of Walsh, Josh Perry, will be making a donation to Toys for Tots in Walsh’s name. He said many people are already willing to donate, and they’re not yet sure how much money will be raised.

McGee and Duhon both said Walsh was a great person and a hero in his own right.

“I honestly can’t think of one person who would be able to think of one bad thing to say about Justin,” Duhon said. “He always tried his hardest, did his best and loved everyone.”

Contact general assignment reporter Elise Franco at [email protected].