Hometown remembers fallen hero

23 Sep 2014 | Sgt. Erik S. Brooks Jr.

Family, friends and community members were in attendance as the city of Cottleville dedicated the Cottleville Post Office in memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Phillip D. Vinnedge, Sept. 23.

Health Resolution-2391 became public law on June 9, 2014. The law designated the post office building in Cottleville as the Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge Post Office. The bill was introduced on June 14, 2013 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on June 9, 2014, according to David Martin, Gateway District Manager, United States Postal Service.

Lance Cpl. Vinnedge was an Anti-tank Assaultman deployed to Helmand Providence, Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device on October 13, 2010. Also in the vehicle with Vinnedge were Cpl. Justin J. Cain, Lance Cpl. Joseph E. Rodewald and Pfc. Victor A. Drew.

After graduating from Francis Howell High School, Vinnedge shipped to Marine Corps Recruit Training on September 21, 2009, according to Julie Vinnedge, Phillip’s mother.

“At the age of ten, Phillip decided to dedicate himself to the Marine Corps after witnessing the events of September 11,” said Julie.

For those who knew Phillip his devotion and service to his country came as no surprise.

“He was always determined to protect his family and friends and was a respected leader of a humble, quiet and kind nature,” said Congresswoman Ann Wagner, Missouri 2nd District Representative. “He never sought recognition or accolades for his accomplishments. At the end of the day he was happy reaching his own personal goals while serving and protecting his country that he loved so much.”

In addition to his military service, Phillip was a fun and loving person. He always sought fun and new adventures, according to Wanger. He was a Boy Scout, order of the arrow member, member of the trap shooting club, a wrestler, a welder and a sky diver.

“There was no challenge too great for Phillip,” said Wagner. “And thanks to courageous selfless service like Phillip’s, we are protected today by his shield that allows us to enjoy freedom and liberty at home.”

Phillip knew he was joining the Marines when America was at war and certainly knew he would be deployed shortly thereafter in harm’s way. Yet whatever may have deterred the faint of heart only drove Phillip harder to accomplish his goal, said Col. Jason L. Morris, 9th Marine Corps District Commanding Officer and Vinnedge’s commanding officer while deployed.

“Phillip Vinnedge had a choice and he chose to serve his nation as a Marine,” said Morris. “And even though he made that decision, he was still very much the boy at heart that so many remember.”

Dedications like this will always allow us to never forget those who came before us, sacrificed for us and gave it their all so we can assemble and stand here today, said Lt. Col. Douglas D. Downey, Commanding Officer of 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment. 

“We are here today to dedicate this post office, but more importantly honor this Marine,” said Downey. “His sacrifice was not in vain. He fought and served a cause bigger than himself. He will not be forgotten, especially with this dedication, this post office and his memory within this great community.”

It is an honor to stand here with you all and remember this fine young man who chose to serve when he did not have to. He laid his life down gallantly for me, for our mission and for all Americans to protect our way of life, according to Morris.

“Phillip was killed along with three other Marines; they are now immortalized and forever young,” said Morris. “They are now with God and peace. They are immortalized in Afghanistan, they were remembered in Camp Pendleton, and now Phillip is being immortalized here in his hometown. The town that raised him and gave him to the Marine Corps is now able to remember him every time they come in to the post office and remember the man and the Marine Phillip Vinnedge was.”
9th Marine Corps District