Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cherie Morton

Gulf Daily News -- TRIBUTES poured in yesterday for a US sailor found dead at her home in Bahrain, as hundreds of colleagues attended a memorial service at the navy base in Juffair.

Staff of all ranks came out in force to pay respects to Cherie Morton, who leaves behind a son, Brian Trevor, in Los Angeles.

The 41-year-old was found dead at her home in Galali at 9.20am on Sunday, but her death still remains a mystery.

Initial hospital notes reported a suspected bullet wound to the back of her head, but navy officials have repeatedly denied that and said no weapon was involved.

The memorial service took place at the multipurpose room of the navy base's Freedom Suq. Ms Morton, who was born in Rockville, Illinois, worked as the command career counsellor for Naval Security Force and was a popular figure, who helped hundreds of enlisted sailors assigned to both Naval Support Activity Bahrain and navy region south-west Asia.

She picked up several awards during her 15 years of service, including the Navy Achievement Medal (two awards) and the Good Conduct Medal (four awards).

Tributes on the Patriot Guard Riders, a US-based motorcyclist group made up of veterans, who attend the funerals of armed forces members, described her as an "American hero".

One entry on their website, from Larry Sanderson, offered his sincere condolences to Ms Morton's family. "I am grateful for PO1 (First Class Petty Officer) Cherie Morton's service to our great nation and greatly appreciate her for my freedom," he said. "PO1 Cherie Morton, you are a true American hero and will not be forgotten. Know you are loved."

Another tribute, signed only by a person with the name Cat, also praised Ms Morton's valuable contribution to the US navy. "My family and I send our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this American hero," it said. "May you find peace in knowing that the love and memories you have will remain in your heart forever, and comfort knowing you are in the hearts and prayers of a grateful nation. "PO1 Cherie Morton, our world is a safer place because of brave and selfless warriors like you, rest in peace." "I thank you for your service and because you are a sailor, you hold a special place in my heart," said one entry from Candyman.

"My thoughts and prayers are with those you leave behind, for you have gone to prepare another place for us. "May God grant them peace and comfort." Ms Morton's body has already been repatriated to the US. Last October, two female sailors Genesia Mattril Gresham, 19, and Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, 20, were shot dead in their barracks at the Naval Support Activity base, Juffair.

They were allegedly shot dead by American serviceman Clarence Jackson who apparently turned the gun on himself. He was critically wounded and was sent for treatment at the Minneapolis VA Medical Centre, US and the incident is still under investigation.

--submitted by Leonard Wahl

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