Cpl. Christopher Poole, Jr.
(reprinted from, September 11, 2007)

Mount Dora Marine dies in Iraq– 153rd Floridian to fall in war
Katie Fretland

Sentinel Staff Writer

September 11, 2007

Christopher L. Poole Jr. was born on the Fourth of July. With such a birthday, he figured the military was his chosen path.

In April, the U.S. Marine left Mount Dora for Iraq just a few days after asking his high-school sweetheart to marry him. The 22-year-old intended to travel home for a visit in November. But last week, a knock on his mother’s door brought her the worst of news.

Poole was killed with three other Marines on Sept. 6 in Al Anbar province in Iraq, the U.S. Department of Defense said Monday. Poole, a communications specialist, was killed in an explosion when a suicide bomber drove a vehicle into a security checkpoint, his family said. He is the 153rd Floridian killed in the Iraq war.

His fiancee, 19-year-old Andrea Garcia, summed up how Poole’s friends and family felt about him: “He was our hero.”

Poole was born in Eustis and spent about 10 years of his life in Albany, Ga., near a military base. He watched the soldiers with admiration and at age 10 proudly told his mother that he was going to be a Marine.

At Mount Dora High School, he spent his time running track, watching football and boating with friends. His trademark was a bumper sticker — “Ain’t scared” — that he placed on his prized red Mustang.

“He was proud of who he was,” said brother Jeff Poole, 20. “He basically stood up to anybody who said anything to him. He was a smart aleck.”

One of the last photographs taken of Poole shows him smiling on a boat wearing beach shorts and a cowboy hat.

“That was him,” said his mother, Donna Hunsicker, by cell phone as she picked out frames to buy for the many pictures of her son. “Just a free-spirited, happy-go-lucky guy.”

Poole was based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was assigned to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

On the day he went overseas, his fiancee said, he said goodbye and she promised to wait for him forever.

“We spent every day together,” Garcia said. “That guy stole my heart.”

In Iraq, the days dragged on for the young Marine. In phone calls home, he spoke of the heat, the boredom and the growing hostility of Iraqis, his mother said. He spent most of his time repairing radios and communications lines and became disillusioned with the war.

“He said, `I am so bored. I’m going to shoot at some sand because I am so bored,’ ” Hunsicker said. “He said, `The only thing they have here are rocks and sand, sand and rocks. The more he was there, the more he’d say, `I hate this place.’ ”

Hunsicker packed a huge box of candy and cookies to comfort him until he could visit. She wasn’t sure whether he got it before he died.

She said she will never forget looking out the window of her Mount Dora home and seeing two men in uniform walking up to her door.

“I saw those two gentlemen walk up the driveway, and I thought maybe they’re here to talk to my 20-year-old or tell me Chris was hurt,” Hunsicker said. “They kept saying, `No you need to go inside.’ It was so unreal.”

Hunsicker pleaded, telling the men she had just talked to her son about five days earlier and that there must have been some mistake.

“He always wanted to be in the United States Marine Corps,” Hunsicker said, sobbing. “I want him buried with his dress blues uniform. He said that’s what he wanted. He deserves that.”