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Marine who lived in Chesapeake dies in Iraq
A Marine with ties to Hampton Roads was killed near Al-Qaim, Iraq, when the Humvee he was driving swerved on a road, overturned and crushed him.
Lance Cpl. Steven L. Phillips, 27, died Tuesday, his mother said Thursday from Pennsylvania. He was only weeks from coming home, his hitch with the Marine Corps done.
"I remember Newport News fondly," said Paulette Phillips from Spraggs, Pa. "We drove through many times on the way to meet Steven, and it meant that we were close."
The meeting point was in Virginia Beach, halfway -- by the family's reckoning -- between the family home in Pennsylvania and the Marines' Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.
They usually stayed at the home of Jim and Richlan Barger, family friends.
"You know how you hear stories about young people who don't get what's going on in the world?" Jim Barger asked. "Well, Steve got it."
Steven Phillips lived in Chesapeake for almost two years while working at USAbox. Earlier, he went to school in Daytona Beach, Fla., on an Air Force ROTC scholarship and then in Pittsburgh. He became disillusioned with an education in aeronautical engineering and became a graphic artist.
Phillips enlisted from Chesapeake in 2003 and served two terms in Afghanistan.
"Part of the reason he enlisted was that he felt he had to do more with his life," Paulette Phillips said. "Everything he felt, he felt with a passion."
Steven Phillips was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Division at Camp Lejeune.
"It hits close to here," Barger said of hearing about Phillips' death.
"A lot of people don't realize much about the war until it hits close to home."
The timing was haunting.
"He was within 40 days or so of coming home," Barger said. "He had already sent an e-mail saying, 'Don't be surprised if you don't get e-mail anymore because we're going to be someplace where we can't send any.'
"I thought that meant he would be in Germany soon and then on his way home."