A 21-year-old Marine from Parkton, who married his high school sweetheart in August, was killed by a suicide car bomber in Iraq on Wednesday, the Department of Defense said yesterday.
Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III died when a suicide car bomb detonated near him as he carried out a military mission in Karabilah, west of Baghdad. Anderson, part of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., had been in Iraq for only about a month.
"They were conducting security operations to prevent insurgents from crossing the Syrian border and establishing strongholds in the cities of western Iraq," said Lt. Barry Edwards, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division.
Yesterday, as Anderson's wife, Tori, his parents, Robyn and Norman II, and his older sister Brooke, traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to retrieve his body, his godmother, Susan Isensee, spoke of the immense blow his death will mean to his family.
"I can't even imagine what kind of void there's going to be in their lives," she said. "I know he always honored his family, and they were always proud of him."
Anderson, a 2002 graduate of Hereford High School, joined the Marine Corps in December 2002. He excelled as a running back on the football team at Hereford but always knew he would join the military, following in the footsteps of his father, a retired Army Ranger, his godmother said.
"He wanted to be a soldier since he was 8 years old," Isensee said. "Even in his childhood, that's all he really talked about. And as soon as he was able, he signed up."
When he joined his division in June 2003, Anderson worked as a rifleman. He was first deployed to Afghanistan, and returned in November last year. His family threw him a party upon his arrival.
"He was the most fun-loving boy," Isensee said. "That boy loved life like I never seen for a 21-year-old. And Norman just always said, 'This is what I want to do.'"
On Aug. 5, at the Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier church near Hunt Valley, Anderson made a drastic change to his life: Clad in his Marine Corps uniform, he married his high school sweetheart, Tori Worthing. The two honeymooned near home, staying at a hotel near the Inner Harbor for a few days.
"They just were so happy together and were so looking forward to their lives together," Isensee said.
"He even walked like a Marine," she said. "Chest out, arms back. Even when he was home on leave. He was just very proud of the Marine Corps."
Anderson's mother helped to collect donated items for soldiers serving in the military, through a program called Shoe Boxes for Soldiers. His parents helped pay the shipping costs for many of those shipments, Isensee said.
"[Robyn Anderson's] always on the Marines for Parents Web site, talking to parents and encouraging other parents," Isensee said. "It's unbelievable what a close-knit family these people are. They take care of each other."
When Anderson was home for a visit recently, he was asked why he joined the military, his godmother remembers. He replied simply, "So my mother and father, and all my friends and all their parents could keep their freedom."
A ceremony honoring Anderson is planned for 6:30 tonight, before the Hereford home football game against Loch Raven High School. Players will wear Anderson's initials on their helmets and his No. 33 jersey will be retired.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete yesterday.
The year Anderson graduated from Hereford High School was incorrectly stated as 2003 when this article was published in the print edition. The Sun regrets the error.