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Shawn V. Starkovich
Service  Marine Corps (LCpl)
Date Of Birth  May 20, 1987
KIA  July 16, 2007 (Iraq)
Cemetery  Arlington National Cemetery
City & State  Arlington, VA
Grave Site  Sec 60 Site 8644

Arlington Marine dies in Iraq
Why Shawn Starkovich died is still a mystery
By Jasa Santos and Jim Haley, Herald Writers
Shawn Starkovich lived life to the fullest.

He rode skateboards and motorcycles and raced cars.

"He liked living on the edge with those sports," said his mother, Kelly Starkovich of Arlington. "He loved anything fast."

Shawn Starkovich, 20, was killed Monday in Anbar province in Iraq, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.

His sense of adventure led him to sign up with the U.S. Marine Corps in 2005, before his 18th birthday. His mom was a little apprehensive, but knew it was something he really wanted to do. She and his father, Jim Starkovich, supported their son.

It was a noncombat death.

Details of how the lance corporal died were not released. The death is under investigation, the Marine Corps said.

Shawn Starkovich was a field communications specialist assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. His outfit was part of the 1st Marine Division, which now is deployed with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. His unit is based at Camp Pendleton, California.

He signed up for the Marines in February 2005. He headed to boot camp two days after his 18th birthday, his mother said. Despite her qualms, she got great help from an online Marine parents support group.

Starkovich graduated from Arlington High School in 2005, but spent most of his high school years at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

"It takes a tough person to be in the Marine Corps, but he (also) was such a gentle person," Kelly Starkovich said.

Chentelle Smith, 19, was Shawn Starkovich's best friend. They met in high school when he dumped his BMX bike in front of her house.

"He was probably the most adventurous of my friends," Smith said. "I could really count on him for something original."

His openness and sincerity made him popular, Smith said.

When she moved to Southern California for college and lived not too far from Camp Pendleton, Starkovich would visit. He often went walking in her neighborhood. The Marine returned to her apartment with stories of who he'd met and what he'd done.

"He made friends with bums on the street," Smith said. "He was always one to make friends with whoever was there.

"When people say that somebody has lived their life to the fullest, I know it's cliche, but he seriously did a lot in his 20 years," Smith added.

It's the unfinished plans that have made Shawn Starkovich's death particularly hard, Smith said.

They won't be able to go motorcycle riding to celebrate her new motorcycle license.

They won't get the tattoos they planned to get once he returned from Iraq.

"He was my Shawn," Smith said. "I'm still shaking to this day. I still can't believe he is gone."

Starkovich graduated from high school early. He went to Camp Pendleton in the spring of that year. His parents flew to California in September to watch him graduate from boot camp.

The Marine Corps graduation is a fond memory because Shawn already was in boot camp when his high school classmates graduated, his mother said.

Starkovich was wiry and tall. His dad made excuses when his son beat him racing cars. The Marine played the saxophone, liked to snowboard and was learning how to surf California style.

He died on his first deployment to Iraq.

It was an assignment he sought for more than a year. He reasoned it wasn't worth being in the Marine Corps if he couldn't fight for his country, his mother said.

Perhaps the best description of Starkovich comes in his own words via his MySpace.com profile.

"Some talk it, I live it," he wrote. "Some walk it, I go full throttle with no regrets, nothing to look back and be sorry for."

Arlington Marine will be laid to rest in National Cemetery
By Jim Haley, Herald Writer
An Arlington Marine who died this week in Iraq will be buried Thursday near Washington, D.C., his mother said Friday.

Lance Corporal Shawn Starkovich, 20, who attended both Marysville-Pilchuck and Arlington high schools, died Monday in Anbar province while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Services for two sailors from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, who also were killed this week in Iraq, are pending.

Only relatives are expected to attend the Arlington National Cemetery ceremony, said his mother, Kelly Starkovich.

Family and friends will be able to celebrate the Marine's life at a service locally, possibly at the family's Arlington-area home. The date has not been set, and other plans are still being made, Starkovich said.

The Marine's body arrived Thursday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, she said. The Defense Department has not said exactly how Starkovich was killed, she added. It was listed as a noncombat death, which is still under investigation.

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