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Grants Pass Marine wounded, will be coming home, parents say

Mail Tribune

GRANTS PASS ' David and Barbara Irish received the telephone call from their youngest son, a Marine serving in Iraq, just before noon Friday.

He said, 'Dad, I'm out of the war. I'm coming home,' '' David Irish said.

Marine Cpl. Patrick Irish, 23, a 1999 graduate of Hidden Valley High School, was shot in the left shoulder during combat on Thursday near Kut, a city about 100 miles south of Baghdad. He is a rifleman attached to the Marines' 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment.

He is the first Rogue Valley resident to be wounded in the war.

— However, three Oregonians have been killed thus far, and one is missing in action. All four are from the northern part of the state.

During the battle involving Irish, a group of Iraqi soldiers launched a suicide charge against a tank, according to an Associated Press article. About 80 Iraqis were killed along with two Marines, the AP reported.

Back in Grants Pass, the Irishes were notified of their son's injuries by a call on Thursday from a staff sergeant at the Twentynine Palms, Calif., Marine Corps base.

(The sergeant) told me what happened and my throat just goes down into my stomach, said David Irish, a retired Marine master sergeant who served in the Vietnam War.

When you get a phone call like that, maybe it's not too good, but you sure don't want someone driving up to the house, he added, referring to the dire news that accompanies the military's casualty notification unit.

The Marine was hit by a round from an AK-47 rifle which shattered his left clavicle, his father said.

The exit wound left a wound about three inches in diameter, he said, later adding, His spirits sounded real good but he says it hurts like hell.

A week ago, the Irishes were relieved after seeing a media report about his unit which included a comment by him following a battle along the Euphrates River. They hadn't heard from him since before the war started, though he wrote regularly while in the service.

They also saw him on Fox news on Wednesday.

You see these reports of Marines killed or missing, his father said. So when you see your son on TV, you know he is OK at that moment. That helps.

But the joy they felt after seeing him on TV Wednesday was shattered the next day by news of his wounds, he said.

Patrick Irish has an older brother and sister but is the only one in the service.

He joined the Corps in part to obtain funding for college. He plans to become a chef, his parents said.

As long as there isn't extensive damage to the bone, he should be OK, his father said.

He was last home during the Christmas holidays.

He's coming home now ' we just don't know when at this point, his father said, adding it likely will be several weeks before their son arrives back in the states.

That's when the family will learn more about what happened during the battle.

Upon learning that Patrick had been shot, David and Barbara Irish's little granddaughter wondered why Patrick didn't duck.

When I told my son that, he said, 'Dad, the guy was two feet away,' '' David Irish said.

Stressing they are thankful their son is OK, the Irishes say they are looking forward to seeing him.

We're very, very proud of him, his father said. And we're really happy he is coming home soon.

Answering the call of military service is in Patrick Irish's blood: In addition to his father, who spent 20 years in the Corps, his grandfather was in the Navy in World War II and served more than three years as a prisoner of war.

Before joining the Corps, Patrick Irish worked at Elmer's Restaurant in Grants Pass for three years. In high school, he ran track and cross country and played the trombone in the school band.

He is engaged to be married to a flight attendant from Sri Lanka.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at