Marine from Palatine killed in Afghanistan
A kind, considerate and hardworking Marine from Palatine who dreamed of a career in the military has been killed in action in Afghanistan.
Christopher "C.J." Boyd, 22, a 2006 graduate of Palatine High School, became the second suburban native this week to die in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Boyd and the other Marine, Kevin E. Oratowski of Wheaton, were based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Boyd, who lived in California with his wife and twin boys, was killed by a roadside bomb while on foot patrol in combat against enemy forces Thursday, according to the Marines.
Palatine High School's Pirates flag was lowered to half-staff Friday afternoon. Boyd's parents left their Palatine home Friday for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to claim their son's body.
Boyd was a rifleman assigned to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. First Lt. Ken Kunze, a Marines spokesman at Camp Pendleton, said it was Boyd's first combat deployment.
Kunze said the losses are difficult for the commanders in Afghanistan.
"They feel it just as much as the families," Kunze said late Friday, "because they want to take care of those Marines."
Since enlisting in the Marine Corps in June 2006, Boyd's personal service awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.
Outside the Boyds' home, an American flag was at half-staff, as was a next-door neighbor's.
Neighbor Laura Bode remembers Boyd playing catch with his father. She talked with Boyd about his future after high school.
"None of us like what's going over there; none of us like how it's handled," she said. "But when Chris was in high school he was dead set, he wanted to be a Navy Seal; he thought to be a Navy Seal would be the greatest thing in the world."
Then came the shock when the fit and trim teenager returned home and told his family he was enlisting in the Marine Corps.
"All of us were dumbfounded," Bode said.
"I know how much this hurts and I know how bad they miss him," she said. "He helped his country, but now he's with God."
Bode said Boyd would lend a hand with her backyard gardening. He was well-liked among his friends and deeply loved by his family.
"They always have been proud as (heck) of their son, and they have good reason to be," Bode said.
Boyd was a member of the football, wrestling and lacrosse teams at Palatine High School. As center, he anchored the offensive line during his senior year.
He may not have been the biggest player on the field, but he had the smarts, toughness and work ethic to excel, head coach Tyler Donnelly said Friday.
He said Boyd became a role model for students he never knew.
"For years his name has been passed down in our program. We talk about him all the time," Donnelly said. "I really can't think of a better kid to give an example of what we're trying to get across: selflessness, sacrifice and hard work.
"Very few kids - I probably could list five in my career - that I've coached could get something at his level, what he's accomplished."
Back and neck injuries never deterred C.J. from games or practices, Donnelly said. Trainers would have to hide equipment from him to keep him off the field.
Donnelly said one time Boyd started crying because coaches and trainers wouldn't let him practice.
"I don't want it to be about our program, but he just paid a huge sacrifice in our limited role with him," Donnelly said. "It's not surprising at all that he would be going for multiple tours of duty over there and risking his life for everybody else. That's exactly who he was."
Boyd married his high school sweetheart, whom Donnelly also taught in class.
"That poor girl now has those two kids. Prayers go out to the family," Donnelly said.
There were at least three senior football players from the Class of 2006 who joined the military, he said.
"You just worry when they're in areas of danger if they're going to make it out," Donnelly said. "It's just tragic. He is a heck of a young man."
Palatine High School was registering students Friday for the school year, which starts Wednesday.
Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 spokesman Tom Petersen said while the school has already lowered the Palatine Pirates flag to honor Boyd, it cannot have the American flag at half-staff unless direction is given by a higher governmental authority, like the governor.
Any further memorial will not be done without consulting his family, whom the district is still trying to reach, Petersen said.
Military officials said Lance Cpl. Oratowski, 23, was killed by a roadside bomb Wednesday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Oratowski, a light-armored vehicle crewman, enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 2008, according to Camp Pendleton officials. He was in his first combat deployment when he died.
• Daily Herald staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.