By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published September 30, 2010
Marine Corps 1st Lt. Scott J. Fleming was killed in Afghanistan Sept. 17 at the age of 24. Lt. Fleming, of Marietta, was a 2004 graduate of Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell and a 2008 graduate of LaGrange College.
Commissioned in the Marine Corps in August 2008, he was based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, for the last year. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. His unit deployed to Afghanistan in May and he was serving as a platoon commander with the 1st Platoon, Kilo Company.
According to reports, he was shot as his unit was providing security for the parliamentary elections in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. The Marines came under small-arms fire and Lt. Fleming was struck. He was taken to a base hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Lt. Fleming was married a year ago after meeting his wife, Brandi, while training in Quantico, Va.
He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, Oct. 7, his father, Joseph, said.
A Mass in his memory will be celebrated at Blessed Trinity High School at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, followed by a reception.
Six years ago Scott Fleming was leading the Blessed Trinity basketball team to its first win in a state playoff game, according to Brian Marks, assistant principal at Blessed Trinity and the boys varsity basketball coach.
“He was an outstanding leader right from the beginning. He was a captain of the varsity basketball team for the 2003-2004 season. He led by example. … He did every drill. What I taught, he did textbook. He never cut corners. He was always … pushing himself to get better,” Marks said.
The still-new high school, which opened in 2000, didn’t have a winning team yet, Marks recalled, but they were on their way. Fleming, who entered BT as a sophomore, “was so determined for us to be winners.”
His senior year the team finished with a record of about 11 wins and 14 losses. He spoke to Marks after they lost a hard-fought game and confided his frustration that their hard work hadn’t paid off. “I remember saying to him, Scott, just keep being a leader and keep working with these guys. … One of these days we are going to be winners.”
The next game they played, seeded seventh in a state playoff opening round, “Scott went out and played the best game of his high school career and led us to victory,” Marks said in a telephone interview.
He continued, “I am looking at that picture on my wall as we won that basketball game and got our first banner for the gym. It was such a big moment for the boys basketball program. He will always be remembered for being at the forefront of that. He was co-captain of the first team to get in the state playoffs. It was such a wonderful way for him to end his high school career.”
Marks said Fleming remained in close touch with him and the school after graduation and regularly taught at the summer basketball camps Blessed Trinity held, where he was “an excellent role model with the younger kids—patient, teaching them the game.”
He was “one of the best kids about coming back and staying in touch.”
After graduation from LaGrange College, where he received a degree in education, he asked Marks to write a letter of recommendation for him to the Marines.
“I felt honored to write that recommendation,” Marks said. “Of the hundreds of kids I coached, he would be at the top of the list to go for something like that.”
After completing basic training, he came back and thanked Marks. Then the coach received an unexpected call from him this year.
“In the spring I got a phone call from him. It was shocking. He was in Hawaii and he was getting on the plane to Afghanistan. He has no idea how great it was for me to hear from him.”
Through their friendship, Blessed Trinity campus minister Patti McCarthy arranged for current BT students to write to Lt. Fleming and his unit and to send needed items to the soldiers. The last contact was a letter from him several months ago, thanking them for what they sent.
“He was proud of the fact that he was a platoon commander,” Marks said. In closing the letter, he expressed regret that he had not known then how much of a difference “a strong leader makes,” but Marks said “he was a strong leader” even in high school.
“It’s hard to say anything more than he was one of the finest young men I’ve been around. … He epitomizes what you would hope for in your child,” Marks said. “Very close to his family … certainly close to his school. … Obviously his country was very important to him.”
He is survived by his wife, Brandi; his parents, Joseph and Joanne Fleming, of Marietta; and his sister, Andrea.