Sparks Marine Honored For Bravery

Lance Corporal Donald Cline
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The widow of a Marine killed in Iraq a year ago has been presented a medal recognizing his valor.

During a Palm Sunday service at a Sparks church, Tina Cline accepted the Bronze Star with a "V" honoring her late husband, Lance Cpl. Donald J. Cline Jr. of Sparks.

Son Dakota, 3, stood at her side while she held son Dylan, 18 months.

"I'm just so thankful all of you came into my life," Tina Cline told about 160 people who gave her two standing ovations at the First Baptist Church.

"If my arms were big enough, I'd wrap them around all of you and give you a big hug," she added.

Donald Cline, 21, was one of 18 Marines killed in the March 23 battle at Nasiriyah on the fourth day of the war in Iraq.

His company came under heavy fire from Iraqi forces after seizing a bridge.

Cline was killed after carrying injured Marines across a highway. But after nearly one year of investigation, the cause of his death is "indeterminable."

1st Sgt. Jason Ruff's voice choked with emotion as he read Cline's citation at Sunday's ceremony.

Ruff had to tell Cline that her husband was missing and later broke the news he was dead.

"I was emotional mainly because I've seen the toll it's taken on Tina and her family," Ruff told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "It's tough to talk about things like that."

Seeing two children at the service without their Marine father helped put things in perspective for him, Ruff said.

"It makes you realize how short life can be," Ruff said. "It makes you want to live each hour of life to the fullest and believe in God."

Tina Cline praised the Reno community for its support through "cards, gifts, donations, hugs and tears."