In memory of
Lance Cpl. Joseph B. Spence
Joseph Spence first asked permission to marry his childhood sweetheart, Elisabeth Bertsch, when he was 16 and she was 14. Her parents said no. Spence kept asking.
"I must have told him no half a dozen times," said Elisabeth's father, David Bertsch.
Privately, they admired Spence's determination _ and when he showed up after boot camp in his Marine uniform, they knew it was time to allow the union.
Spence, 24, of Scotts Valley, Calif., was among the 31 killed Jan. 26 when a helicopter crashed in bad weather in Iraq. He was stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
Soon after he left for Iraq, Elisabeth gave birth to the couple's daughter, Providence. Spence never saw her in person, but was able to connect via videoconference at Christmas.
"He had nine days to go there in Iraq," David Bertsch said. "We are just crushed he didn't make it."
Spence's father was a Marine, and he never wavered in his resolve to fight.
"He enjoyed his time over there. He wasn't one of those `What am I doing here' cases," his brother Roger said. "He was where he wanted to be."
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