06/27/2013 -- Gene Sutton, father of fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Sutton, presented a $500 check to Brett and Kim Cleveland, June 12, in honor of his son.
The check is to be given to the Clevelands son, Jacob, who is currently in boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.
“I wanted to do something to honor my son, to pay it forward,” Sutton said. “I believe this is something Steven would want me to do.”
Steven died May 26, 2012, during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
He was killed by an improvised explosive device while assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The money was raised during the Big Steve Memorial Dice Ride, June 8, coordinated by Sutton’s family members and friends who wanted to carry on Steven’s memory.
Jacob attended Lee County High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and was selected by school officials to receive the award. Jacob, 18, left for boot camp June 7 and is scheduled to graduate Aug. 30.
Sutton said he recently received a letter from Jacob.
“He thanked me for the money and wants to meet me after he graduates from boot camp,” Sutton stated. “He said he would do his best to live up to Lance Corporal Sutton’s name.”
The Cleveland family said it was an honor to receive the award.
“I think this is a beautiful way for Steven’s memory to be passed on to a future Marine,” Kim said. “I find it very touching and I think Jacob will feel the same way.
“Jacob takes a lot of pride in history and this will mean a lot to him,” she said. “Having a recruit, someone brand new into the Marine Corps, receive such a gift from an established Marine is very momentous.”
Brett, a retired master sergeant, said, “As Marines, we always take care of our own. Gene is building on the legacy of Marines still taking care of Marines.”
During the presentation, Sutton found out there were some similarities between Brett, Jacob and Steven.
Brett and Steven both served with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
This was the last combat unit Brett served with. Also, Steven graduated boot camp from Golf Company, 2nd Battalion at MCRD Parris Island, which is the same company Jacob is serving in.
Sutton said he was glad to have met the Clevelands and looks forward to meeting Jacob after he graduates from boot camp.
The additional proceeds from the ride will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Foundation, the Steve Sutton Lee County JROTC scholarship and also to help send packages to Marines serving overseas, according to Sutton.