Ottawa marine remembered for ‘spunk’

Wasser volunteered at art camp

? For the past two summers, Katie Wasser has come back from college to a house, a town, a world, without her brother.

“You try to move on,” she said. “You kind of just get on with your life.”

Two years ago April, Wasser’s brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Wasser, 21, died in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, after shrapnel from a bomb ripped through his chest.

Now, two years later, Katie Wasser says the pain of her brother’s death still lingers.

She never got to see her brother one last time, never got the chance to say good-bye.

She’s proud of what her brother did.

“But it’s a closure I never had,” Wasser said.

For others in Ottawa, the process has been just as difficult.

Kevin Honeycutt remembers Christopher as a “spunky little boy” enrolled in summer art classes Honeycutt taught, a young man so full of patriotism that he signed up to serve in the Marines on his 18th birthday.

The casket of Lance Cpl. Christopher Brandon Wasser, of Ottawa, is carried from Ottawa University Chapel during memorial services April 17, 2004. Nearly 1,000 people attended the service to pay tribute to Wasser, who was killed April 8, 2004, by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Whatever the activity was, Honeycutt said, Chris was at the front of the line, ready to work on any project Honeycutt assigned.

“He was full of life in a way that’s hard to describe,” Honeycutt said.

As the years went on, Chris began coming back to the art camp to volunteer, leading other children, helping in any way he could. Honeycutt described him as a “storm of energy.”

“When I found out (Chris had died) it was just the hardest thing in the world,” Honeycutt said. “Everyone that knew Chris just hit the floor.”

Honeycutt added: “I was angry at first. Very angry.”

Honeycutt became obsessed with the minutiae. Driving along, he’d begin thinking of Chris, and he began living there, he said. He’d slowly come back to reality, realizing he’d gotten lost.

“That was a fairly lengthy process,” he said.

Now, memories are all Honeycutt has to hold onto. He still thinks of him at times. His memory flashes before him every time he looks at new causality figures from Iraq, he said.

But, oftentimes, he can still see Chris as a boy, so eager to help, to go the extra mile in everything he did.

“I see him,” he said, “golden, smiling from ear to ear, good to go.”