A Marine's Final Letter: In Memory of SSgt Daniel Clay


Thread Starter
Always remembered in our hearts
Apr 17, 2002
LauraMJ said:
Some of you know that my brother-in-law's brother lost his wife last year. Rich was a military attache stationed in Turkey with his family when Jennifer died suddenly from a brain aneurysm.

A few weeks ago, 10 marines were killed in Iraq by a homemade bomb. Jennifer's brother, Dan, was one of those killed.

In the event of Dan's death, he had written a letter to his family.
I have permission from our TSG member LauraMJ (who is the administrator of a forum I belong to called "The Women's Place")...to post this letter SSgt Daniel Clay wrote to his family in the event of his death in Iraq....he was killed in Fallujah on December 1st along with 9 other Marines.....:(....what a loving but humble reminder of our men and women who have died or will die in Iraq.....:(.....God bless you SSgt Clay......my condolences to Laura and to SSgt Clay's and Jennifer's family and friends....:(.....he truly is a hero! (y) I truly believe that Daniel and Jennifer have been reunited in Heaven.....:)

Here is the letter that Dan had wrote in the event of his death:

MOM, DAD, KRISTIE, JODIE, KIMBERLY, ROBERT, KATY, RICHARD, AND MY LISA: Boy do I love each and every one of you. This letter being read means that I have been deemed worthy of being with Christ. With MaMa Jo, MaMa Clay, Jennifer ..... all those we have been without for our time during the race. This is not a bad thing. It is what we hope for. The secret is out. He lives and His promises are real! It is not faith that supports this . But fact and I now am a part of the promise. Here is notice! Wake up! All that we hope for is Real. Not a hope. But Real.

But here is something tangible. What we have done in Iraq is worth any sacrifice. Why? Because it was our duty. That sounds simple. But all of us have a duty. Duty is defined as a God given task. Without duty life is worthless. It holds no type of fulfillment. The simple fact that our bodies are built for work has to lead us to the conclusion that God (who made us) put us together to do His work. His work is different for each of us. Mom, yours was to be the glue of our family, to be a pillar for those women (all women around you), Dad, yours was to train and build us (like a Platoon Sgt) to better serve Him. Kristie, Kim, Katy you are the five team leaders who support your Squad ldrs, Jodie, Robert and Richard. Lisa you too. You are my XO and you did a hell of a job. You all have your duties. Be thankful that God in His wisdom gives us work. Mine was to ensure that you did not have to experience what it takes to protect what we have as a family. This I am so thankful for. I know what honor is. It is not a word to be thrown around. It has been an Honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. This is as close to Christ-like I can be. That emulation is where all honor lies. I thank you for making it worthwhile.

As a Marine this is not the last Chapter. I have the privilege of being one who has finished the race. I have been in the company of heroes. I now am counted among them. Never falter! Don't hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.

Now here are my final wishes. Do not cry! To do so is to not realize what we have placed all our hope and faith in. We should not fear. We should not be sad. Be thankful. Be so thankful. All we hoped for is true. Celebrate! My race is over, my time in war zone is over. My trials are done. A short time separates all of us from His reality. So laugh. Enjoy the moments and your duty. God is wonderful.

I love each and every one of you.

Spread the word .... Christ lives and He is Real.

Semper Fidelis


Thread Starter
Always remembered in our hearts
Apr 17, 2002
Honoring SSGT Daniel Clay, USMC



Mr. MILLER of Florida.: Mr. Speaker, this week I attended the funeral of SSgt Daniel Clay. Sergeant Clay was from my district and one of ten Marines killed by an IED in Fallujah, Iraq on December 1, 2005.

Dan's father, Bud Clay, shared with me a letter his son wrote to his loved ones before he was killed. Accompanying his son's letter was a letter Bud had written to President Bush. Mr. Clay asked me to take this to Congress and share with you so that we could all see Dan's final thoughts and wishes.

May God Bless SSgt Daniel Clay, his family, our veterans, our troops, and the United States of America.


Thread Starter
Always remembered in our hearts
Apr 17, 2002
A letter to President Bush, from Dan's father, Bud Clay:

DEAR PRESIDENT BUSH: My name is Bud Clay. My son, SSgt Daniel Clay--USMC was killed last week, 12/01/05, in Iraq. He was one of the ten Marines killed by the IED in Fallujah.

Dan was a Christian--he knew Jesus as Lord and Savior--so we know where he is. In his final letter (one left with me for the family--to be read in case of his death) he says ``if you are reading this, it means my race is over.'' He's home now--his and our real home.

I am writing to you--to tell you how proud and thankful we (his parents and family) are of you and what you are trying to do to protect us all. This was Dan's second tour in Iraq--he knew and said that his being there was to protect us.

I want to encourage you. I hear in your speeches about ``staying the course''. I also know that many are against you in this ``war on Terror'' and that you must get weary in the fight to do what is right. We and many others are praying for you to see this through--as Lincoln said, ``that these might not have died in vain''.

You have a heavy load--we are praying for you.

God bless you,
Pensacola, FL


Thread Starter
Always remembered in our hearts
Apr 17, 2002
Staff Sergeant Daniel Jason Clay, USMC
Memorial Service

“The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places: How are the Mighty are Fallen!”
(II Samuel 1:19)
“Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day…?”
(II Samuel 3:38)

Such was the lament of King David over the deaths of Saul, Jonathan and Abner. Such is our lament this day over the death of a true American hero, SSgt Daniel Jason Clay.

Some men are born to be heroes. Dan Clay was one such man. It was evident to all who knew Dan, even as a young man, that God had instilled something rare and special in his heart. From the womb, God fashioned within his chest, the lion-sized heart of a warrior, tossing in an extra handful of courage and the seeds of a southern gentleman that Dan would need to accomplish God’s calling here on earth. And as he grew up in the Clay home, Dan was imprinted with a deep love of God and Country, a clear understanding of the battle between good and evil, and a strong sense of Christian duty, virtue and honor.

Dan grew up under the shadow of an oversized 48-star American Flag that is still tacked to his old bedroom wall. It was the funeral flag of one of two great uncles killed in action during World War II. If you knew Dan as a child, you might also remember him conducting “vehicular patrols” on the sidewalk in front of his house. Clad only in Superman “underoos” with a red and yellow “Big Wheel” tricycle for his chariot, he ceaselessly battled imaginary villains, sun-bleached blond hair and red cape trailing in the breeze. For Dan, it was an easy transition to patrolling the streets of Fallujah in Marine “cammies”, taking the fight to a real enemy bent on destroying our Nation.

Earlier this week, I spent a day with retired Navy Commander, Ralph Gaither, one of our Nation’s most distinguished Vietnam War heroes and a 7 ½ year resident of the Hanoi Hilton. As he does whenever called upon to speak, he challenged all present to, “give to your country that which you have best to offer.” Dan Clay did just that. Fresh out of high school, and with a great sense of purpose and mission, he sought out that noble institution ever-searching for “a few good men” and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

From Day One, Dan Clay was a “poster child” for the Marine Corps. He was handsome, rugged, fleet-of-foot, tall and strong. He had an irrepressible smile and was passionate, enthusiastic and full of life. He was playful and had a wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humor. One could easily envision him as the square-jawed, sword-slinging, dragon-slaying star of a Marine recruiting commercial. You could not find a more upbeat and positive young man. He rose to the top in everything he did, finishing as Honor Grad at Boot Camp and soon thereafter winning a Fleet-wide “Super Squad” competition for which he received personal recognition from the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Hand-picked to serve on the staff of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dan much preferred being with fellow Marines in the field where he could better employ his God-given leadership abilities, love of people, vast military skills and keen tactical mind. He thrice deployed to the Middle East, first in response to the terrorist attack on USS COLE and twice more to Iraq during the ongoing Global War on Terror.

A military history buff, Dan well understood that regardless of the strength of a nation’s air force or navy, armed conflicts are never won without, “boots on the ground”. It takes men of extraordinary courage, conviction and training to route evil men out of their “rabbit holes”, caves and underground tunnels. Unlike the multitudes of dime-a-dozen common men that pontificate about war from over-stuffed easy chairs, Dan Clay willingly, “marched to the sound of the guns” and gave “that which he had best to offer” to lead young marines in mortal combat against an enemy driven by the powers of Hell and that sickly gloats in the shedding of innocent blood. Dan believed very strongly in the cause that landed him again in Iraq and was 100% convinced that if we did not engage the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan and on the streets of Fallujah, we would be bloodied again here in America. He “stood in the gap” on our behalf and was willing, if necessary, to lay down his life to ensure that this did not happen on his watch.

As a Navy man and a Christian, I have always been fascinated by the many military references to the Christian Walk. When I read them, I readily envision Dan.

“Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3).

“Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of righteousness. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit…” (Ephesians 6:14-18).

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds: casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (II Corinthians 10:4).

“Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).

Dan’s was a heroism born of unshakable faith in God. To me, his bravery in combat was no less remarkable than that of the princes of Israel sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land, or sent by Joshua to spy out the City of Jericho. He had the same courage and confidence in God that enabled Jonathan and his armor bearer to bravely enter the garrison of the Philistines, to route the enemy in their own camp, knowing that, “the Lord is able to save by many or by few” (I Samuel 14:6).

Before deploying to the combat zone, Dan always took time to individually reassure his wife, sisters, mother and dad that come what may, all would be well. There was never fear or equivocation in his voice, only the calm confidence of one who heard the call of duty and knew it was time again to rejoin his “band of brothers” to lead them back into the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” in defense of the Nation.

Permit me to share two vignettes experienced by Dan in Iraq which testify of God’s sovereignty, the power of prayer and Dan’s character and faith. During one mission during his first combat tour in Iraq, Dan was in a lead HUMVEE, with most of the men of his platoon convoying in a second HUMVEE. As Dan’s vehicle transited a certain stretch of road, an improvised explosive device detonated behind him that engulfed the second HUMVEE in a cloud of dense smoke, dust and falling debris. Dan was certain that all his men in the follow car were instantly killed by the explosion. What he did not know was that at the precise instant before the IED detonated, the driver of the second vehicle had asked the Marines in the rear of the HUMVEE to pass him a bag of M&Ms. As the candy was located inside MRE packs stashed on the floor of the vehicle, the IED exploded just as Marines in the rear of the HUMVEE all bent low to retrieve the M&Ms. Shrapnel flew over their heads in such a way that only one Marine received non-life threatening injuries. To Dan it was clear that his men were spared by the grace of God, in answer to the countless prayers of friends and family members, by activating the chocolate cravings of the HUMVEE driver.

Early in his second tour in Iraq, Dan’s platoon was encamped near a unit of soldiers from the New Iraqi Army. Though the Marine accommodations were Spartan, Dan noted that the Iraqi soldiers were living in even more primitive conditions without so much as a proper place to relieve themselves. Ever a man of action, Dan grabbed an entrenching tool, walked over to edge of the Iraqi camp, and to the cheers of grateful Iraqi soldiers, dug a big hole in the ground, creating a makeshift latrine.

Dan did many similar things with friends and family members. He had a servant’s heart and was always ready to pitch in where he saw a need. On a brief visit to Pensacola before deploying to Iraq last summer, knowing that I had my hands full with four small children in the wake of his sister’s death, Dan came over to my house, cut and edged the lawn, trimmed the hedges, wrestled with my boys and gave them all a proper Marine haircut.

Let me close by saying a few words about Dan’s family and his brave and beautiful bride, Lisa. Lisa, you are an inspiration to us all. We all know that Dan adored you and made the smartest move in his life by taking you as his bride. We love you, grieve with you and avail ourselves to assist you by every means possible.

During the past week I have heard at least a dozen friends and neighbors say of the Clays, “How do they do it?” How can a family that has been racked by such heartache and tragedy, suffering the loss of two young family members in the space of a year, respond to their circumstances with such strength, dignity, grace and peace? Though their hearts are broken beyond words, they have an anchor for their souls and “do not grieve as those who have no hope”. They share an unswerving faith in Jesus Christ and in a loving Heavenly Father who, “works all things together for good” to those who love God and are called according to His purposes. This is coupled with a deeply held Bible-based understanding that this earth is not our final home. As Sara Jo Clay stated just after receiving word of her son’s death, “heaven is looking better and better”. I’m convinced that God graciously brings us to this point so our souls begin to long for Heaven and to be released from the grip of this fallen world where sin and death reign and where heroes and mighty men still fall on occasion at the hands of evil men.

On that sad afternoon in Fallujah last week, we lost a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a “Marine’s Marine”, a great American hero, and one of our very best and brightest. Dan’s death was no accident but was part of God’s plan set in motion long ago to accomplish His own purposes for which He need not answer to man. But rest assured that Dan is in the presence of, “the Captain of the Lord of Hosts”, the one he has long served but now sees face-to-face. And like his sister, Jennifer, who preceded him in death, Dan would not now wish to return. He, like the Apostle Paul can now say,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:7).

Oh that we would all be able to say the same!

Semper Fi, Dan! Semper Fi!
Nov 21, 2003
God Bless Those Who Serve, Those Who Have Served, Those That Will Serve, And Those Who Will Give Their Lives So That We Can Have Ours.
Jun 12, 2005
As a former Marine and a Marine brother not only to those who have gone before me and after me in the corps but in Christ as well.My thoughts and prayers go out to all our men and women in the military who serve to protect us all over the world.May God bless and protect them from harm and may God bless their families.
May they all have a Merry Christmas.

My heart is saddened that another Marine brother has passed on but I'm glad He has gone to be with his and my Lord Jesus.-------------Semper Fidelis -----(always faithful)

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