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Major Richard Gannon Memorial

This Memorial Page is in Honor of our nephew Rick Gannon. He gave his life for our country in Iraq on April 17 2004. Our goal is to keep his memory alive by telling people about him and the life he lived. In his short life of 31 years he accomplished more than most do who live a full life span, we think he was amazing,and we hope you do too! We will be writing about our family and things that are going on in his honor, so check back often.

Major Richard John Gannon II, USMC

1972 was a year of change. For the first time ever, we were aunts! Our sister, Tess, gave birth to"Ricky" (Richard John Gannon II), in May of 1972. I started a lifetime hobby passion, I made my first quilt for Ricky, a blue and pink gingham "1 patch" design, I (badly) appliqued and embroidered a design on each block. The quilt is in our studio today, I have taken it apart with plans to repair it...

Ricky was a great kid, full of energy and wonder! He was so special to us, we thought he was amazing. As he grew, he became a rather intense teenager and gave Tess and Rich a run for their money. Through it all he was always setting high goals for himself and acheiving everything he set his mind to. He went off to college (Cornell) joined the Marines and started his family with Sally all in a very short time frame. He was happy, full life and we were incedibly proud of our hard-working, ever acheiving newphew.

Major Richard GannonThen Iraq happened. Rick was deployed in 2003 soon after the war began, he came home in fall of the same year for 5 months. He was re-deployed early in 2004 and in April of that year, he was killed in the Al Anbar province during a fire fight while he was giving aid to wounded Marines. He left behind his wife Sally and 4 children- RJ (Richard John III), Patrick, Connor and Maria.

Rick was an avid runner, finishing his first marathon at the age of 9. Shortly after Rick's death our sister, Tess, and her daughters Staci and Shawna began training for the Marine Marathon in Rick's honor and with her daughters, just finished their 2nd Marine Corps Marathon. Tess has also started a new hobby called "geocaching" involves using a GPS, hiking (sometimes) and finding a "cache". Tess maintains a cache called "Fallen Heroes of Daley Ranch", in honor of Rick and 2 other fallen soldiers.

Not a day goes by that we don't miss him and think of him.

Ali & Norma

Captain Richard J. Gannon II, USMC
(From the San Diego Union Tribune Newspaper)

HIDDDN MEADOWS -– Seated at the kitchen table yesterday with his wife, Tess, Richard Gannon used one word to describe his son, Capt. Richard J. Gannon II: character. Spread out in front of the grieving couple were photographs of their son at various stages of his life: with his wife and four young children; as a Boy Scout adorned with merit badges; hiking on Mount Whitney; and during his long career with the Marine Corps.

Beyond the photographs and memories, the only recent items the Gannons have of their son now are a few brief e-mails and a telephone message from Iraq left Friday on their answering machine: "Hi, it's your son calling to say that I love you and that I'm OK. I'll talk to you another time."

Gannon, a North County native, was killed the next day. He was one of four Marines who died in combat in the Anbar province of Iraq, near its border with Syria. Gannon was assigned to the 3rd
Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Twentynine Palms. He was 31.

Gannon grew up in Valley Center, graduating from Escondido High School. He received a full scholarship to Cornell University, where he graduated with a double major in political science and
history, and taught at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. His family has a long history of military service. His father served in Vietnam in 1967-68, leaving the Marine Corps to marry in 1971. Tess Gannon's father, Hector, fought in the Korean War and served as an inspiration to his grandson. "I never pushed the Marine Corps on him, because if you've been in combat you know that there's a very high price to pay," the elder Gannon said. "I never encouraged him, but when he told me that's what he wanted to do, I was very proud of him."

Richard Gannon, a real estate asset manager for the Port of San Diego, read from a letter his son sent him while attending Cornell: "I still can't figure out why you left such a great brotherhood as the Marine Corps... but you've still influenced me in a million ways. Thank you for everything, Dad." Tess Gannon recalled how her son met his wife, Sally, while in his senior year at Escondido High. Though family members described him as slightly built and shy when he was younger, in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a week before his death, Gannon's men called him "tough as a $2 steak."

The company of 200 Marines that Gannon led was mainly charged with humanitarian efforts – rebuilding schools and roads, and helping to establish a police force. But more recently, it was called to the front lines to fight. "I think that the intent was a humanitarian type of effort, but then the tide changed," said Richard Gannon, adding that the significant amount of casualties where his son was stationed wasn't getting much press coverage. "This place was mischaracterized; it was a very bad place to go, and he was aware of that in our e-mails that we exchanged. He became very cautious."

Richard Gannon, who lives in Hidden Meadows, a small, unincorporated community north of
Escondido, said his son was killed by an explosion in the fourth hour of an 18-hour battle. Sally Gannon, who is living at the Twentynine Palms base with her children, was doing as well as could be expected, her in-laws said, receiving the same support from the wives of fellow Marines that she offered others in times of need. Gannon was a devout Catholic who attended church regularly with his wife, his father said. The senior Gannon said most of his son's friends in recent years have been Marines. "This one woman came up to me yesterday at Twentynine Palms and said: 'I want you to know, they're bawling their eyes out from Quantico to San Diego. They loved your son... He was their idea of a Marine officer that they aspired to."

Among the other passions in Gannon's life were stamp collecting and running marathons, the latter of which he took up at age 9. The elder Gannon said his son still ran five to 10 miles every morning.
"If you're going to lead men, you have to be very physically fit," he said. "He took that very
seriously. "He wanted to complete the 26.2-mile Heart of San Diego... at 9 years of age. We trained for ... 60 miles a week. At 20 miles, I pulled a hamstring, so the last 6.2 miles, he had to finish
alone. He looked at me like I was a traitor, like, 'What do you mean, you're dropping out?' That's when I realized this kid had tremendous guts." Brady Clay was Gannon's history teacher and track coach at Escondido High. "He was very passionate about his running and just one of the brightest kids in his class," Clay said. "He was always hungry to understand the story more fully. So many students just kind of coast through school, but Rick always wanted to make sure that he was in an elite pool of kids. "My response to him joining the military was that they were getting one of our best and brightest, which was certainly true... He obviously made the ultimate sacrifice."

Gannon also is survived by his sons, Richard J. Gannon III, 12; Patrick, 6; and Connor, 5; daughter, Maria, 2; grandmother, Ann Reyes of Capistrano Beach; and sisters, Stacy Kail of Pittsburgh and Shawna Gannon of Monterey. The city of Escondido is planning a memorial service for Gannon in coming weeks, on a date to be announced. His mother works in the city's building department. U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Escondido, is helping the family to obtain a cemetery plot at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

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