Fallen Marine families presented scholarships

The children of Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Mullins, from left, Ethan, 3, Camillo, 9, and Giovanna, 2, have received $60,000 each in scholarships, the most recent being from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. Educational benefits for his widow, Violeta Mullins, will allow her to study to become the teacher.
(Submitted Photo)

By PRESTON GILL pgill@daily-review.com

The widow and three children of the Bayou L’Ourse Marine killed, along with three other Marines, during an operation to dispose of unexploded ordnance at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., on Nov. 13 have been given scholarships and military benefits for their post-secondary education.
The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation announced the presentation of a $30,000 scholarship to each of the children of Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Mullins, 31 — Camillo, 9; Ethan, 3; and Giovanna, 2. The scholarships were presented in San Diego on Feb. 7.
Mullins’ three children are among seven children of the Marines killed who are receiving scholarships pledged by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
Violeta Mullins, Gregory Mullins’ widow, said this was the second $30,000 scholarship the children have received from a non-profit organization. The first one was from a fund established for families of explosive ordnance disposal technicians. The scholarships are in addition to the educational benefits she and her children are entitled from other military benefits, she said.
This is another of the many ways in which her deceased husband continues to be with the family, Mullins said.
“Gregory is always here,” his widow said. “We did not talk about death often but he had the most dangerous job in America, so we discussed it occasionally. He always said, ‘If I die, I will make sure my energy is still around you.’”
The educational benefits available for Violeta Mullins will allow her to go back to school and become the teacher, and eventually principal, she always wanted to be, she said.
“I have dreams but all my dreams are second to being a parent. The most important thing to me is my children,” Mullins said. “Making a career change will allow me to spend more time with my children.”
Mullins said she is a property manager, which she said demands a lot of her time.
“We have been on an emotional roller coaster ride the past three and a half months,” Mullins said of her family. In the first weeks after an explosion killed her husband, the children, especially the two youngest, kept wondering “when Daddy was coming home.”
“The children now know that daddy is not coming home,” Mullins said. The two youngest ones say that “Daddy is sleeping,” she said.
“We talk about Daddy all the time. I manage not to cry so the children do not associate me crying with talking about their daddy and then not want to talk,” Mullins said. “When you have children, you cannot afford to go down the hole” and must remain strong for them, she said.
She and the children are coping with their loss as best can be expected, she said.
“You do not prepare yourself for this,” Mullins said of her husband’s death while at his home base. “When your husband is in a war you live 50-50” knowing there is a chance he could be killed, she said. “But not when he is home like this.”
“The families of servicemen make a lot of sacrifices and this is one of them,” Mullins said. “I am so proud of my husband.”
A second funeral service for the four Marines who died was held in California on the day the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation scholarship was presented.
Dena Polk, mother of Mark Mullins, said additional unidentifiable remains of the men were found. All the remains were buried together in one casket with a headstone with the names of all four men placed at the grave, Polk said.
“Greg has two graves now. One of his own and another one together with his men,” Polk said.
Mullins’ dress blues were placed in the casket and the casket’s flag was dedicated to the entire unit, Polk said.
Polk called the scholarships another example of the “wonderful things” the Marine Corps community has done for the family.
Margaret B. Davis, president and chief executive officer, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, praised the service of Mullins and his fallen comrades.
“Gunnery Sgt. Gregory Mullins and his fellow fallen Marines had one of the most dangerous and challenging jobs in the Marine Corps. We are proud to honor his legacy of bravery and selfless sacrifice by supporting his children with scholarships,” Davis said. “His children — as all children of Marines — have sacrificed greatly. As a country, we owe them our support.”
The Mullins family plans to attend a May 3 ceremony at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Memorial Wall at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to inscribe the names of the four Marines into the memorial, Polk said.
“This will be a ceremony with maybe 8,000 people attending it from across the United States,” Polk said. “There will be a total of eight names put on the memorial this year.”
The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation scholarships are for post-high school education and career training to all qualified deserving sons and daughters of Marines and Navy Corpsmen.
with particular attention given to children whose parent has been killed or wounded in action and those who have demonstrated financial need.

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