U.S. Marine SSgt. Daniel Clay was killed in action in Iraq on December 1, 2005. Before leaving home for his second tour in Iraq, Sgt Clay left a letter with his family and an instruction to open the letter only in the event of his death. After Clay’s death, his father Bud wrote the following letter to President Bush:

December 7, 2005

President George Bush,

The White House,
Washington, DC.


My name is Bud Clay. My son, SSgt Daniel Clay–USMC was killed last week, 12/01/05, in Iraq. He was one of the ten Marines killed by the IED in Fallujah.

Dan was a Christian–he knew Jesus as Lord and Savior–so we know where he is. In his final letter (one left with me for the family–to be read in case of his death) he says “if you are reading this, it means my race is over.” He’s home now–his and our real home.

I am writing to you–to tell you how proud and thankful we (his parents and family) are of you and what you are trying to do to protect us all. This was Dan’s second tour in Iraq–he knew and said that his being there was to protect us.

I want to encourage you. I hear in your speeches about “staying the course”. I also know that many are against you in this “war on Terror” and that you must get weary in the fight to do what is right. We and many others are praying for you to see this through–as Lincoln said, “that these might not have died in vain”.

You have a heavy load–we are praying for you.

God bless you,


Text of Sgt. Daniel Clay’s Letter to His Family


Boy do I love each and every one of you. This letter being read means that I have been deemed worthy of being with Christ. With MaMa Jo, MaMa Clay, Jennifer …. all those we have been without for our time during the race. This is not a bad thing. It is what we hope for. The secret it out. He lives and His promises are real! It is not faith that supports this …. but fact and I now am a part of the promise. Here is notice! Wake up! All that we hope for is Real. Not a hope. But Real.

But here is something tangible. What we have done in Iraq is worth any sacrifice. Why? Because it was our duty. That sounds simple. But all of us have a duty. Duty is defined as a God given task. Without duty life is worthless. It holds no type of fulfillment. The simple fact that our bodies are built for work has to lead us to the conclusion that God (who made us) put us together to do His work. His work is different for each of us.

Mom, yours was to be the glue of our family, to be a pillar for those women (all women around you), Dad, yours was to train and build us (like a Platoon Sgt) to better serve Him. Kristie, Kim, Katy you are the five team leaders who support your Squad ldrs, Jodie, Robert and Richard. Lisa you too. You are my XO and you did a hell of a job. You all have your duties. Be thankful that God in His wisdom gives us work. Mine was to ensure that you did not have to experience what it takes to protect what we have as a family. This I am so thankful for. I know what honor is. It is not a word to be thrown around. It has been an Honor to protect and serve all of you. I faced death with the secure knowledge that you would not have to. This is as close to Christ-like I can be. That emulation is where all honor lies. I thank you for making it worthwhile.

As a Marine this is not the last Chapter. I have the privilege of being one who has finished the race. I have been in the company of heroes. I now am counted among them. Never falter! Don’t hesitate to honor and support those of us who have the honor of protecting that which is worth protecting.

Now here are my final wishes. Do not cry! To do so is to not realize what we have placed all our hope and faith in. We should not fear. We should not be sad. Be thankful. Be so thankful. All we hoped for is true. Celebrate! My race is over, my time in war zone is over. My trials are done. A short time separates all of us from His reality. So laugh. Enjoy the moments and your duty. God is wonderful.

I love each and every one of you.

Spread the word …. Christ lives and He is Real.

Semper Fidelis