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Web site allows Okinawa Marines to share stories with fallen Marine’s parents

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan (Feb. 8, 2008) -- After Cpl. Tom Saba, a crew chief with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, died in a CH-46 Sea Knight crash Feb. 7, 2007 in Iraq, his parents found a photo on his computer.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/4B157211086C2008852573E90038C0D3?opendocument

Feb. 8, 2008; Submitted on: 02/08/2008 05:19:53 AM ; Story ID#: 20082851953
By Lance Cpl. David Rogers, MCB Camp Butler

The photo shows Saba standing on a beach in his flight suit holding a small object. They loved the photo, but they wanted to know more about its origins.

To find the story behind the photo, friends of the family accepted the help of Triton Web Studios, which built and hosts a free Web site appropriately named http://www.tomsaba.com.

Through the site, the family hopes not only to discover the story associated with that photo but also to keep in touch with Marine who knew their son.

The Web site went online summer of 2007. It allows anyone to e-mail Saba’s family with stories, photos or condolences for their son.

The site is also linked to a guest book hosted by the Staten Island Advance newspaper. The guest book has become a popular place for Marines who served with Saba to publicly post their stories about him, according to the Web site administrator.

February 7 marked the one-year anniversary since HMM-262 lost one of its own. Weeks before, with the thought of the approaching anniversary on his mind, Capt. Kenneth Morrow made his first post on the site. Morrow, a CH-46 Sea Knight pilot with the squadron, spent a lot of time flying with Saba, who served as his crew chief.

“I’ve wanted to tell a few stories to the family to let them know I remember Cpl. Saba,” Morrow said. “And the people here still remember Cpl. Saba and we talk about him all the time. I’m not the world’s greatest writer and it took a long time for me to put it down.”

Morrow posted stories of his experiences as a new pilot with Saba, a more experienced crew chief at the time, and also stories of inside jokes between the two.

“I just wanted to make sure I got the stories down,” Morrow said. “If his family wants to get in contact with me or any of his friends, I left my contact information on there. And if they are ever missing Tom, they can contact me and I can tell them some cool stories and good memories that I have of him.”

Morrow is one of many Marines who have shared their favorite stories of Saba.

“You get to see stuff from all the Marines that served with him,” Morrow said. “And the craziest thing is that every single one of them starts out with ‘I can’t imagine him without a smile on his face.’ That’s why I put on mine, ‘You’ve heard this a hundred times, but it’s true, that’s the way he was.’”

After more than six months of the Web site’s existence, the mystery of the photo that started it all has not been solved yet.

But the wealth of stories that has come of it has opened a whole world of Saba’s life that his loved ones back home would have never known about.