2 Chicago-area Marines killed in Afghanistan

August 20, 2010

Lance Corporal Kevin Oratowski and Christopher "CJ" Boyd were both killed in separate incidents this week while supporting combat operations in the region.

The Department of Defense says their deaths bring the number of service men and women killed as a result of the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan to more than 1,100.

C.J. Boyd and Kevin Oratowski were both 23 years old, both Marine lance corporals, and both stationed at Camp Pendleton in California.

On Friday, their friends and family remembered them as heroes.

Flags line the driveway of the home in Wheaton where Kevin Oratowski grew up. The Glenbard South graduate was killed Wednesday by an IED explosion in Helmand province in Afghanistan. It was his first deployment.

"I was devastated. I had Kevin in class and he started off kind of a quiet kid, and he really came into his own as he got older, and he started to get a witty personality and I enjoyed being around him," said Sherry Hudson, Glenbard South teacher

Oratowski's teachers are remembering him as a computer wiz who was generous and quick with a laugh.

"He was a fun kid to work with," said Pam Neuner, math teacher.

Neuner wrote him a college recommendation letter before he opted for the military.

"He was popular in class. He was the go-to guy. A lot of times a lot of the kids that were struggling would go to him and say, 'hey, how do you do this?' And he would always help them," said Neuner.

C.J. Boyd was also a natural leader. He wasn't the biggest kid on the Palatine High School football team but he played on the offensive line, a testament to his work ethic.

"He was just a leader. The thing that really stands out about him is he would play through injuries. He was more about the team than himself," said Tyler Donnelly, Palatine H.S. football coach.

Boyd entered the military after high school. He recently re-enlisted for another four years. and was on his third deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed by an IED explosion.

"He was looking to try to improve the world and make it better, and he thought being in there would make a difference," said Tom Landeck, Boyd's uncle.

Boyd leaves behind a wife and twin 2-year-old boys in California, as well as relatives in Palatine who will never forget his courage.

"He had just outstanding character, a very stand-up kid, really had a lot of belief in his country and what it stood for," said Landeck.

Kevin Oratowski's death is being felt especially hard at Glenbard South High School where his father is a teacher and a football coach. And at Palatine High School, they're working on plans to honor C.J. Boyd this year. He was an all-conference football player.

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