A spokeswoman for the U.S. Marine Corps has died in Iraq, becoming the first female Marine officer to be killed in the conflict.
Maj. Megan M. McClung, of Coupeville, Wash., died Dec. 6 in Al Anbar province, the Department of Defense said in a news release.
McClung, 34, was a public affairs officer assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters at Camp Pendleton. McClung joined the Marine Corps in May 1995 after graduating from the Naval Academy. A call to her family home in Coupeville was unanswered.
The exact circumstances surrounding McClung's death were not immediately released, but Camp Pendleton spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr Cliff Carnes said she was escorting media when she was killed. The journalists she was with were not seriously injured, he said.
"She was a Marine's Marine," Carnes said. "She exemplified everything that it was to be a warrior, she was a great personality and a great friend."
Her boss in Iraq, Lt. Col. Bryan Salas, said McClung was an advocate of media coverage of military operations, and while in Iraq she managed the Marine media embed program.
Michael Fumento, a freelance reporter who has been to Iraq three times, met McClung in Baghdad last year. He described her as smart, kind, and extremely efficient.
Carnes said McClung, who was unmarried, was in the final month of a yearlong deployment to Iraq.
Three other female Marines have been killed in Iraq, according to the Defense Department's most recent numbers.
Lance Cpl. Juana Navarro Arellano died in April after being shot in Anbar province. Lance Cpl. Holly A. Charette and Cpl. Ramona Valdez died in June last year when a suicide bomber attacked their convoy.
In all U.S. military branches, 60 women have been killed in Iraq. Fifty-two of these women were in the Army.
Details of McClung's burial at Arlington National Cemetery were being finalized.