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As a family grieves over the death of 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr., a letter the Marine recently sent home revealed how unhappy he was. Pei-Sze Cheng reports.
Grieving friends have been showing up at the home of a 21-year-old Long Island Marine killed in Afghanistan last week, leaving notes, flowers and remembrances for the young soldier.
Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr. was killed before dawn Friday when an Afghan police officer shot him and two other U.S. Marines after sharing a meal with them, his family said.
"He was in the gymnasium with all his friends, about seven of them, and an Afghani, someone that he was training, came from in the shadow, opened the door and just took an AK-47 and started shooting at random," said Buckley's brother Shane. "He hit my brother, his friend Richard, and his other friend, and they all passed away. Four of them got away."
It was one of a recent rash of attacks in which Afghan security forces or attackers wearing their uniforms turn their guns on the coalition troops.
Shane Buckley said one of the soldiers who survived the shooting told his family how it unfolded. It's the only account they have of the killing because the Department of Defense has not officially told them what happened, the family said.
"He went over there, he did what they asked him to do," said the Marine's grief-stricken father, Greg Buckley Sr. before flying to Delaware to retrieve his son's body. "And the people he was training and helping over there, they turned on him."
Buckley Sr. said his son had grown increasingly homesick in the past few weeks.
In his most recent letter home, the younger Buckley wrote, "Almost two months here, and I can honestly say I hate it."
His father said in tears, "He told me weeks ago, 'Dad, they're shady. I don't want to be here. I feel like something's not right.'"
The younger Buckley turned 21 two weeks ago. He graduated in 2009 from Oceanside High School, where he played varsity basketball.
"He was the best person I knew. He was supposed to be the best man at my wedding, he was supposed to be the godfather of my children," said Sebastian Buttafuoco, Buckley's best friend. "They took that from me."
"He was loved by everyone, a great kid overall," said friend Markiquse Chess.
Buttafuoco said Buckley's sudden death has been made more painful with the revelation that he had been planning to come home unannounced Monday.
"He was supposed to surprise his brothers and his mother, the rest of his family," said Buttafuoco. "Only a few people knew."
The family said funeral arrangements will likely take place later this week.
Flags in Nassau County are also flying at half-staff this week in memory of Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr
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