A Bridgewater Marine's mark of friendship

Rebecca Hyman

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Thayer had always wanted a tattoo, but nothing ever seemed quite right. He didn’t want one he’d regret years from now. But when his close friend Lance Cpl. Kevin T. Preach died after being wounded while serving in Afghanistan, Thayer didn’t hesitate.

Last Friday, Thayer got a tattoo on his left shoulder with the words “rest in peace” and a pair of hands praying and clasping a dog tag engraved with the initials “K.T. P.”

Friends and family welcomed Thayer home from a seven-month tour of duty in Iraq with a surprise party at his family’s Stephanie Lane house Saturday. The Patriot Guard veterans group was on hand waving flags in his honor and his front lawn sported a big welcome home sign.

The reunion was made all the more poignant by the death of Preach, Thayer’s classmate and close friend, who also lived in Bridgewater. Preach, 21, died on Feb. 7 of wounds sustained in Afghanistan on Jan. 24 when his Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive device.

Thayer, who expects to be redeployed to Afghanistan possibly as soon as this winter, said having the tattoo on his shoulder will be like having his friend watching over him when he goes back.