brothers applaud local community for their patriotism
raised a hero in this place, words of Marine brother SSGT
Thomas Praxedes, who will guard the body of Cpl. John C. Bishop
throughout the funeral proceedings today, September 16 at the
Versailles Baptist Church. Cpl. Bishop was killed September 8
while serving in Afghanistan when his convoy was ambushed.
When SSGT Praxedes heard of his Marine brothers
death, he volunteered to be the one to stand guard.
While it is a tough assignment, its nothing compared to
what Cpl. Bishop has done, he told The Versailles Republican.
Praxedes serves with the 1st Battalion 5th Marine Regiment out
of Camp Pendleton, CA.
SSGT Praxedes had many stories about two tours in Iraq with Cpl.
Bishop and the true hero he is. He told about how Cpl. Bishop
was a machine gunner by trade and would be in the big machine
gun turret, watching over us as they cleared homes
in Fallujah. He was a tough marine with a good heart,
he told The Versailles Republican on Tuesday of this week.
A side of Cpl. Bishop that even his family didnt know was
told as the close friend and brother Praxedes melded
with family members throughout the week.
He told of Cpl. Bishops bravery as he fought in Iraq side
by side. He told of the fallen Marines courage alone. He
loved the Marines, he noted.
Cpl. Bishop was a decorated hero receiving many medals including
two combat action ribbons. Praxedes explained the meaning of the
ribbons. They are for receiving and returning enemy fire,
he noted. Bishop had one for serving in Iraq and one for serving
in Afghanistan. He got more medals than all of us,
The hometown hero was part of the 6th Marine Regiment, one of
the most highly decorated regiments in the Marines. He will have
a green rope around his blues denoting this distinction that less
than 10,000 Marines have received. There are approximately 205,000
Marines serving according to Praxedes.
Cpl. Bishop was also awarded the Purple Heart. This is the first
death the 3B IM Lima Company - a weapons platoon - has experienced.
Its hard, admitted the tough Marine as he prepared
to be with his brother to the very end.
SSGT Praxedes along with another Marine brother, Cpl. John Klug
who drove in from Kansas, are also Purple Heart recipients, for
being wounded in battle. They didnt dwell on their accomplishments,
although SSGT Praxedes has a long list at the age of 24, but focused
on the task at hand and the duty to serve their brother."
Im hearing a different side of my brother, Mike
Bishop of Versailles, said with tears in his eyes. He knew he
was a great fun loving guy, which Praxedes and his other fellow
Marines could attest to. He said having the Marines at his home
was healing for him.
He loved children. That was a constant quote from everyone who
knew Cpl. Bishop. His fellow Marines told how when Bishop got
a package from home, he always filled his pockets and gave much
of it away to the Iraqi children. Of course, he always shared
with his buddies too. But, the children were first. He took in
a stray puppy once in Iraq and was always looking out for others.
While traveling to Versailles, Praxedes noted that people just
knew what he was doing. They didnt have to ask,
they just saluted him or had a tear in their eye, he said. When
he flew into Philadelphia, he still needed to get to the Dover
Air Force Base, which is about a two hour drive. He checked on
a cab fare, but knew that would take longer and cost over $200.
A man working at the USO found out about the situation and insisted
on driving the young Marine to his destination, free of charge.
Christopher Gannon told Praxedes he was willing to do anything
to get the fallen Marine closer to his family. He gave Praxedes
an American flag pin, which in turn was given to Cpl. Bishops
wife, Cpl. Crystal Bishop.
Of the procession and the outpouring of love from the community,
Praxedes noted, If he was here today he would say this town
is what makes it all worthwhile, he told The Versailles
Praxedes said he was humbled by the children standing out to pay
tribute to his fallen Marine brother. He felt it was appropriate
in light of Cpl. Bishops great love for children.
In closing he said if it wasnt for the Marine Corp he wouldnt
have met this great hero. We are brothers. We love him as
much as his mother loves him, he stated. He said Bishops
death was a shock, but he felt proud at the same time. This
war is real and were fighting a different enemy in Afghanistan,
he noted. Afghanistan is known as the Graveyard of Empires.
And while SSGT Praxedes knows the risks, he will be deployed there
later to do his duty.
To the community, SSGT Praxedes noted, Heroes can be produced
in small towns, Bishop is proof.
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
above are Marine brothers of fallen Marine Cpl. John C.
Bishop. From left: Noe Cevallos, retired; SSGT Thomas Praxedes,
who is guarding Cpl. Bishop; Sgt. Sergio Flores; and Cpl.
John Klug, who was wounded in battle in Iraq and is now
retired. The active duty Marines along with retired brothers
were proud to have served with Cpl. Bishop. Pictured below
are students at the Southeastern Career Center who were
standing by the highway as the procession came through Monday
bringing Cpl. Bishop home. Behind The entire school was
allowed to participate with 400 students paying tribute.