Runners, family, honor spirit of fallen Marine

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COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) – Runners hit the pavement Saturday morning to honor and remember a local Marine who lost her life in Iraq ten years ago.

On June 23rd, 2005, 22 year-old Lance Corporal Holly Charette was on a truck with other Marines returning to their base in Fallujah after manning a checkpoint all day. Despite the Marine Corps’ prohibition on women serving in combat units, they were tasked with searching female Iraqi civilians moving through the checkpoint. On the way back, an insurgent rammed his explosives-laden car into their cargo truck, killing Charette and several other Marines.

In the ten years since, Charette’s family has established a scholarship fund in her memory and organized several annual events. Charette – a mail clerk – had a U.S. Post Office named in her honor, as well as a veterans’ housing facility in Johnston.

Saturday morning, friends, family and runners attended the 6th Annual Holly’s Spirit Run walk and 5k at Coventry High School, which raises money for the scholarship fund.

Alex Hollenback received one of the first scholarships given out in Charette’s name.

“It’s always nice to do a race,” she said. “The weather always seems to work out for these guys, which is awesome, but then we’re also helping the legacy and helping students move forward like I was able to because of their generosity.”

Charette’s parents, Ed and Regina Roberts, said that even with the passage of time, it was still a very emotional day.

“Even though it’s been ten years, it’s like yesterday,” Ed Roberts said. “We live it, we dream it. We dream when the Marines came and told us what happened. All this plays into it.”

“It helps us in our grief to put our energies to something positive,” Regina Roberts said.

This year’s awards night, when another student will receive the scholarship in Holly’s name, is Thursday.

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