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Air station felt an earlier loss

Three sailors killed in Iraq April 6 were the first military people assigned to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station to die in the war.

But it wasn’t the first time that “Team Whidbey” felt loss from a tragedy in the Iraq war.

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Marcques J. Nettles, of Beaverton, Ore., died April 2, 2006, when the truck he was riding in rolled in a flash flood near Asad, Iraq. Seven Marines also died in the accident.

While Nettles was deployed to Iraq from Camp Pendleton in California, the 22-year-old corpsman’s first duty station was Naval Hospital Oak Harbor. He worked in the inpatient nursing ward and the internal medicine clinic until he was transferred to California in September of 2005.

Nettles was well-loved and very well remembered among those who worked at the hospital on the Whidbey base. Many of them spoke affectionately about the young man with a contagious smile at a “service of hope” ceremony shortly after the accident.

Nettles was originally listed as “duty status whereabouts unknown” until his body was recovered April 16 of last year.

Nettles grew up in Beaverton, Ore., and was co-captain of the varsity football team in high school. He joined the Navy on Sept. 11, 2002, went through boot camp and then the Basic Hospital Corps School.

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