Based: Camp Pendleton
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: November 20, 2004
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany
Hometown: Santa Maria
High School: Santa Maria High (Santa Maria)
Burial: Santa Maria Cemetery, Santa Maria
In letters, phone calls and e-mails from Iraq, Joseph Heredia went out of his way to shield his family from the hardship and heartbreak of war, even as he took on a second tour of duty that he sensed would be more dangerous.Read the entire LA Times article about Marine Corporal Joseph J. Heredia here and visit his Guest Book here.
"He loved the Marine Corps. He knew what his purpose was," said his wife, Natalia Heredia.
The 22-year-old corporal saw himself not only as a protector of his country but also as the guardian of his family's wellbeing. He took care to avoid upsetting loved ones with descriptions of life in a combat zone.
"He didn't want to talk about it," said his wife. "He would always say, 'It's something that can tear your heart apart' -- the situations they were put in and the things they saw. He kept us sheltered from all of that."
Heredia, of Santa Maria, died Nov. 20 of combat wounds he received Nov. 10 in Al Anbar Province, the Department of Defense said.
During his four years in the service, friends, relatives and strangers could tell he was a dedicated Marine. He sprinkled conversations with praise for the Corps and wore his uniform with pride.