The way Angela Reiss sees it, her son was just doing his job.
"He always said, 'Mom, it's our job to police the nations,'" Reiss recalled Tuesday.
Marine Corps Sgt. Brendon Curtis Reiss, 23, died March 23, 2003, when his personnel carrier was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in the first hours of a 22-hour battle near An Nasiriyah, Iraq.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, Brendon's mother, Angela Reiss and sister, Lindsey Reiss, will gather at the Ramkota Hotel at 6 p.m., with Marines, other families and anyone who'd like to be there to celebrate the 230th birthday of the Corps.
The deadline for reservations for the dinner is this Friday.
The event, sponsored by the Central Wyoming Detachment of the Marine Corps League, features Robert Spencer, the author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)."
He writes a weekly column titled "Jihad Watch," and has appeared numerous times on television. He is internationally renowned as an "expert" on Islam.
Spencer holds a master's degree in religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has been studying Islamic theology, law and history in depth since 1980.
Also during the Nov. 10 celebration, the 3-year-old Marine Corps League Memorial Scholarship drive ends. The program awards grants to Wyoming high school seniors who attend the same high schools or Wyoming colleges that Wyoming soldiers and Marines killed in action in Iraq attended.
"I have worked with the developmentally disabled for eight years," Angela Reiss said, "and the first scholarship awarded at Hanna High School where Brendon went was to a developmentally disabled student. That rocked my world."
Reiss is a community living instructor at NOWCAP in Casper.
Lindsey Reiss is a longtime employee of Sutherland's Home Improvement Center on CY Avenue in Casper. Raffle tickets are being sold at Sutherland's for $2 each, with proceeds going to the Marine Corps League scholarship fund. The prize is a time share resort stay of the winner's choice, and that, too, will be awarded at the dinner on Nov. 10, although the winner does not need to be present to win.
"We are hoping to raise $3,000 to $5,000 per scholarship," said Leo Sanchez, commandant of the Central Wyoming Detachment of the Marine Corps League. "If we do, the state will match our money at each college."
The scholarships go to any senior who puts their name in the lottery at each of the high schools or colleges in Wyoming.
The awarding of a scholarship to just the kind of person Angela Reiss has spent so long helping is just one of the ironies that has occurred since the scholarship program was founded.
The Lions Club in Newcastle sent $1,000 to the scholarship fund, "our single largest contribution," Sanchez said.
Just weeks later, in January 2005, Marine Staff Sgt. Brian Bland of Weston, a graduate of Newcastle High School, was killed in action in Iraq.
The Reiss women said going to dinner with a whole bunch of Marines will be a pleasure for them.
"It actually makes me feel good," Angela Reiss said. "I'm very proud that my son is a Marine. It was always his dream to be in the military and when he chose the Marines, that made me very proud."
She says Sanchez has done much to keep the memory of her son and the other nine from Wyoming alive. But he's done more than that for her.
"He's been an awesome person. He's been my emotional support for more than two years now," she said.
Tickets for the chicken or ribeye steak dinner are $23 each. To make reservations, call Sanchez at 265-4579. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis for all but Marines.
Casper Inside editor Sally Ann Shurmur can be reached at (307) 266-0532 or email@example.com.