Thursday, March 31, 2011

Curtis R. Spivey, Army, Specialist -- Rest In Peace

Curtis R. Spivey, 25

Army, Specialist
Based: Ft. Hood, Texas
1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: April 2, 2007
San Diego, USA
Married, 1 child
Gender: Male
Hometown: Chula Vista
High School: Hilltop Senior High (Chula Vista)
Burial: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego
Even after an attack on his Humvee left him paralyzed, Army Spc. Curtis R. Spivey never regretted serving in Iraq.

"I enjoyed deploying. I enjoyed serving my country," he said last month while undergoing daily therapy in the spinal-cord injury unit at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in La Jolla.

Like many injured veterans, Spivey, 25, had gone through a period of anger and depression. But he had seemingly worked through those issues and was upbeat. He talked of going back to college, maybe getting a degree in some area of criminal justice.

"I'm definitely not going to sit ... at home," he said.

But his plans were not to be. While he was an inpatient at the VA hospital, a blood vessel in Spivey's brain ruptured and doctors were unable to stop the internal bleeding.

He died April 2, just short of seven months after a bomb exploded beneath his Humvee south of Baghdad.

Spivey was buried ... at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery on San Diego's Point Loma. Family, friends and members of Spivey's platoon attended.

He is survived by his wife, Aida; their 2-year-old daughter, Marianna; his father, Joseph L. Spivey Sr.; his mother, Tania L. Spivey; his stepmother, Bernadine D. Spivey; three sisters, Vicki DeLagrave, Marissa Macedo and Rebecca Macedo; and his brother, Michael. A second brother, Joey, died last year. Spivey's wife and daughter live in San Diego; Marissa Macedo lives in Portland, Ore.; and the rest of the family lives in Chula Vista.

In his interview, Spivey talked of his love for his daughter and how he was determined that his injuries not keep him from being "absolutely the best father I can be," both as a provider and a source of emotional support.

"I've got a lot to live for," he said.

Read the entire LA Times article about Army Specialist Curtis R. Spivey here, find more at Military Times and visit Specialist Spivey's Guest Book.

John Ford -- Presidential Medal of Freedom -- March 31, 1973

On this day in history*:
"John Ford, in his works, has depicted freedom in all of its profound depths....John Ford has fought for freedom, and for that reason it is appropriate that tonight, on behalf of all of the American people, he receives the Medal of Freedom."
-- Richard M. Nixon
    March 31, 1973
Perhaps because in part he knew the cost of freedom, Ford spent a lifetime interpreting his nation's heritage. He accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country's highest civilian honors, with the words, "God Bless America."

Ethan Edwards. The Searchers.
*From the American Patriot's Almanac

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

William J. Wiscowiche, Marines, Lance Corporal -- Rest In Peace

William J. Wiscowiche, 20

Marines, Lance Corporal
Based: Camp Pendleton
1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 30, 2004
Anbar province, Iraq
Married, 1 child
Gender: Male
Hometown: Victorville
High School: Victor Valley High (Victorville)
Burial: Desert View Memorial Park, Victorville
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William J. Wiscowiche returned from his first tour of duty in Iraq in October, married his high school sweetheart and met his daughter, who was born while he was away.

But duty called and the 20-year-old soldier returned, dutifully albeit reluctantly, for a second time in February.

"He didn't want to go back. But he told his mother he accepted it," said his father, Joseph Wiscowiche, 69, who served in Vietnam as a Marine. "He's a Marine and he has to obey orders. He was going to do what he had to do, so he could go home."
He was noticeably more reflective, although he tried to act nonchalant, his father said. "He would act like there was nothing to it: 'I just kicked butt like a Marine,' " Joseph Wiscowiche said.

But through it all, he kept his humor, said best friend Aaron Savedra, 19, a football team mate. "Willie would try to make the best of even the worst situations, make it seem like everything was fine," Savedra said.

One month after his marriage, Wiscowiche was deployed again to Iraq. "He knew he would go back to a different kind of war," said his mother, Patricia Wiscowiche, 49.

"He said, 'I don't want to go back again. Let's just get this over with, so I can start my life again,' " Savedra said.

In addition to his wife, daughter and parents, Wiscowiche is survived by three half sisters and two half brothers. He will be buried with full military honors Saturday at Desert View Memorial Park in Victorville.

Read the entire LA Times article about Marine Lance Corporal William J. Wiscowiche here, find more at the San Diego Union Tribune, at Fallen Heroes, at Military Times and visit Corporal Wiscowiche's Guest Book.

Veronica Wiscowiche, 19, left, grieves as U.S. Marines fold the American flag during her husband, Lance Cpl. William Wiscowiche's funeral at Desert View Mortuary in Victorville, Calif., Monday, April 10, 2004. Wiscowiche, 20, of Victorville, was killed March 30, 2004, in the Al Anbar province by hostile fire, said Marine Corps spokesman Robert Shuford. (AP Photo/San Bernardino Sun, Gabriel Acosta)
The above photo can be found with others here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nina Simone Interlude -- I've Got Life

Ben Stein Visits Walter Reed Army Medical Center Again

From Ben Stein's Diary

Here I am in D.C. I spent the afternoon visiting wounded soldiers at WRAMC. Now, much of modern life is just plain pornography. Plain and simple porn. That's what it is. Just wicked and dirty.

But real clean beauty is at Walter Reed. The brave man with his beautiful girlfriend who lay calmly in bed discussing where he should go to business school. He had just had his leg amputated a few HOURS before! The man who had fallen from a disabled truck 50 feet into a creek bed and broken six spinal vertebrae and severed his spinal cord, and just kept saying, "I feel so lucky to be alive." The mothers and fathers. The wives. The girlfriends and fiancées. The astounding man from Arkansas, David, an amputee, cruising about in his wheelchair with a big smile. These people are the fresh water and soap that wipe this nation clean.
I left WRAMC with a huge headache. I just feel sick that these men are not surrounded by throngs of well-wishers praising them and praying for them night and day. (Frankly, I feel sick that we're in Afghanistan at all.) A bad day for us is bouncing a check. A bad day for them is severing their spinal cord. What the heck can we ever do to thank them enough? What?
When these men wake up in the middle of the night, drugged, confused about where they are, then suddenly remember they are lying there with no legs, where are we? If it's me, worrying about my son's education or about whether I should sell an asset or have a colonoscopy. What do these men think about?

And how can we do better by them? How can we tell them we worship them and love them?

We had better fall to our knees right now and figure it out.

Read Ben Stein's Diary entry here at American Spectator.


Agustin Gutierrez, Army, Specialist -- Rest In Peace

Agustin Gutierrez, 19

Army, Specialist
Based: Ft. Bragg, N.C.
782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: March 29, 2007
North Kabul, Afghanistan
Gender: Male
Hometown: San Jacinto
High School: San Jacinto High (San Jacinto)
Burial: Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside
Growing up in Escondido and then San Jacinto, Calif., Agustin Gutierrez was so close to his twin, Jose, and their two-years-younger nephew, Elvis Mendoza, that the rest of their extended family called the boys the Three Musketeers. Inseparable and always there for one another, the three were shy around everyone else.

So it surprised the family when, shortly after graduating from San Jacinto High School in 2005, Gutierrez joined the Army. It was the first time the Three Musketeers had been separated since the twins were 8 and moved in with their oldest sister, Cecilia Mendoza, and her young family.
…The 19-year-old Army specialist visited his family over the holidays before shipping out to Afghanistan on Jan. 22. He was cheerful and enjoying his new life, Mendoza said. Then her worst fear came true.

On March 29, Gutierrez died of injuries suffered a day earlier when the vehicle he was traveling in near Kabul overturned. Also killed in the accident was Sgt. Edmund McDonald, 25, of Casco, Maine.

A mechanic assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, Gutierrez had volunteered to be a gunner in the convoy that day. His sergeant told the family that Gutierrez was always one of the first to volunteer for extra duty.  ...
In addition to his sister and twin, Gutierrez is survived by his parents, Francisco and Elvira Gutierrez; and four older brothers, Alberto, Ricardo, Rogelio and Ruperto.

Gutierrez had planned to come home to San Jacinto in June to join his twin for their 20th birthday and to reunite the Three Musketeers.
Read the entire LA Times article about Army Specialist Agustin Gutierrez here, find more at Military Times and visit Specialist Gutierrez's Guest Book


Sgt. Edmund McDonald

Monday, March 28, 2011

Samuel S. Lee, Army, Private First Class -- Rest In Peace

Samuel S. Lee, 19

Army, Private 1st Class
Based: Camp Greaves, South Korea
1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment,
2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 28, 2005
Ramadi, Iraq
Gender: Male
Hometown: Anaheim
High School: Loara High (Anaheim)
Burial: Los Angeles National Cemetery, Westwood
ANAHEIM - Two years ago, senior Samuel Lee lined up with fellow Junior ROTC members for his school's pre-Memorial Day service, shortly before carrying out his dream of joining the U.S. Army.

On Friday, his parents and sister attended in his place, clutching a picture of the soldier who died in Iraq in March.

For the past nine years, Loara High School has honored its veterans with a whole-school assembly featuring a memorial balloon release.

This year's service took on a special meaning for employees and students as the reality of war hit home.

"His (balloon) was the most important to us because he was a Saxon, too," said senior Laura Reyna, 17. "Most of them, we don't know them, but they still matter."

Lee, the son of Korean immigrants who was born and raised in Anaheim, stood out as a leader in JROTC, which he joined his freshman year.

Just a month or so after graduation, Lee left town for the U.S. Army. He specifically requested an assignment in Korea so he could see his father's homeland. Lee was stationed there before deployment to Iraq.

On March 28, Lee died of non-combat related injuries. [Family friend] Mary Lingenfelter said the family still doesn't know the cause of death, which is under investigation. Lee's family declined to comment.
Read the entire Orange County Register article about Army Private First Class Samuel S. Lee here, find more at Fallen Heroes and this Laguna Beach blog.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Florence B. Choe, Navy, Lieutenant -- Rest In Peace

Florence B. Choe, 35

Navy, Lieutenant
Based: Camp Shaheen, Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan
Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: March 27, 2009
Camp Shaheen, Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan
Married, 1 child
Gender: Female
Hometown: El Cajon
High School: Monte Vista High (Spring Valley)
Burial: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego

On March 27 [2009], in circumstances still being investigated, Choe and another Navy office were shot and killed by an Afghan National Army soldier at Forward Operating Base Shaheen near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan's Balkh province, which borders Uzbekistan. She was 35.

Lt. j.g. Francis L. Toner IV, 26, of Westlake Village, also died in the attack.

"We're all pretty much devastated," said Cmdr. Con Yee Ling, a neonatologist at Naval Medical Center San Diego, her voice breaking. "She went there on a humanitarian mission. We all expected her to come home."

She went to the Navy recruiter just days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was commissioned five months later.

Rear Adm. Christine Hunter, commander of Naval Medical Center San Diego, said Choe was an outstanding officer who made a "lasting impact" on issues including quality control while assigned as the executive assistant to the hospital's governing board.

Hunter said she was not surprised that Choe volunteered to be what the Navy calls an "individual augmentee" in Afghanistan, even with its dangers. "She fully understood that Navy medicine's mission is to reach out to other nations," she said.

In her off hours, Choe was a runner and a snowboarder.

Choe is survived by her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Chong "Jay" Choe, a urology resident at the medical center; their 3-year-old daughter, Kristin; her mother and father, Francisca Bacong and Rufino Bacong Sr.; and two brothers, Rufino "Ruffy" Bacong Jr. and Ron Bacong. Choe and her husband lived in El Cajon, in San Diego County.
Please read the entire LA Times article about Navy Lieutenant Florence B. Choe here,
read an LA Times tribute to her here 
and find more at Military Times.
Florence B. Choe with her husband, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chong "Jay" Choe, and daughter, Kristin.

Lieutenant Choe previously remembered at Boom3.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Francis L. Toner IV, Navy, Lieutenant j.g. -- Rest In Peace

Francis L. Toner IV, 26

Navy, Lieutenant j.g.
Based: Camp Shaheen, Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan
Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: March 27, 2009
Camp Shaheen, Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan
Gender: Male
Hometown: Westlake Village
High School: Westlake High (Westlake Village)
He was the person people always wanted to be around.

A standout football player and homecoming king, Francis L. Toner IV had a smile for everyone at Westlake High School in Westlake Village.

"The kid was pure goodness," said Christina Harrison, who taught him U.S. government in his senior year.

Toner, a Navy lieutenant junior grade, and another Navy officer were shot and killed March 27 when an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire at Forward Operating Base Shaheen near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan's Balkh province, which borders Uzbekistan. He was 26.

Navy Lt. Florence B. Choe, 35, of El Cajon, Calif., also died in the attack.
Toner had been in Afghanistan for five months and was due home last Wednesday to visit his wife, Brooke, in Idaho, and other family members, said his aunt, Linda Moosekian of Newbury Park.

Toner's wish was to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his father and stepmother, Frank and Sharon Toner; his mother, Becky Toner; two brothers, Michael and John; and a sister, Amanda.
Read the entire LA Times article about Navy Lieutenant Francis L. Toner IV here,
see a memorial Facebook page,
and find much more about Lieutenant Toner at

Friday, March 25, 2011

Shabbat Shalom -- Zionist Files, Elizabeth Taylor Division

Hillel Fendel
An ardent Zionist has passed away: Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died on Wednesday in Los Angeles from heart failure at the age of 79.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) issued a statement of mourning for Taylor, announcing that she had been converted to Judaism in 1959 by a former ZOA President, Reform Rabbi Max Nussbaum.

The ZOA statement listed a series of efforts Taylor made for Israel and the Jewish community, including her purchase of $100,000 in Israel Bonds in 1959, her participation in raising $840,000 for Israel in a 1967 London gala, and her cancellation of a visit to Moscow after the Soviet Union lashed out at Israel following the 1967 Six Day War.

In addition, she was one of 60 prominent women to sign a statement in 1975 to then-UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, condemning the General Assembly’s infamous Zionism-is-Racism resolution. Taylor offered herself as a hostage when 104 Jews aboard an Air France airbus were held hostage by PLO terrorists at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, from which they were rescued in a spectacular Israeli commando mission on July 4, 1976, America’s 200th birthday.

Taylor frequently visited Israel and met with its leadership, including Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1983. In 1987, she signed a petition seeking the release from Soviet prison of leading refusenik Ida Nudel.

Elizabeth Taylor’s pro-Israel activism led to the banning of her films in several Arab countries. After she bought $100,000 in Israel Bonds in 1959, the United Arab Republic (now Egypt) banned all her movies. Gen. Essam Elmasri, head of the Cairo regional bureau of the Israel Boycott Office, said at the time that she would not be allowed into Egypt because she had adopted the Jewish faith and “supports Israeli causes.”

Via Jews For Sarah Palin

Francisco Abraham Martinez Flores, Marines, Private First Class -- Rest In Peace

Francisco Abraham Martinez Flores, 21

Marines, Private 1st Class
Based: Twentynine Palms, Calif.
1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 25, 2003
Nasiriya, Iraq
Gender: Male
Hometown: Duarte
Foreign Country of Birth: Mexico
Burial: Live Oak Memorial Park, Monrovia

With her son's casket before her and a huge American flag hanging high above the altar, Martha Martinez stood strong Saturday in front of a packed church crowd and told mourners what overwhelmed her heart:

"I am a mother with a broken heart," she said. "I had so much love for my son and I feel so sad that I have lost him.... But I will always be proud of him."
She said she could not give him a final embrace because she was in Mexico attending her father's funeral the day he left Twentynine Palms.

"He was my firstborn son and the pride of this family," she said as many in the pews began to weep. "I will always remember him as a young man with so much spirit."

Martinez Flores came with his family from the Mexican state of Jalisco at age 3 and was two weeks away from becoming a U.S. citizen when he died, one of thousands of green card soldiers who volunteer for military service. His relatives proudly said Saturday that he had been posthumously awarded citizenship.
Read the entire LA Times article about Marine Private First Class Francisco Abraham Martinez Flores here, find more at Military Times, Fallen Heroes and visit Private Flores' Guest Book.
The family of Marine PFC Francisco Martinez Flores embrace as they greave for the 21-year-old during his funeral Mass Saturday, April, 12, 2003 in Monrovia, Calif. His mother, Martha Martinez Flores embraces her husband Samuel, left and her youngest son, Sammy. The Marine was killed when his tank tumbled from a collapsing bridge in Iraq was remembered Saturday as a man who loved two countries the United States and Mexico and died to liberate a third. Hundreds of mourners packed Immaculate Conception Church and others overflowed outside during the funeral Mass for Martinez Flores, 21, who died just two weeks before he was to become a U.S. citizen.(AP Photo/Virgina Lee Hunter)

You will find the above photograph of Marine Private Flores' family here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jose Angel Garibay, Marines, Corporal -- Rest In Peace

Jose Angel Garibay, 21

Marines, Corporal
Based: Camp Lejeune, N.C.
1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, II Marine Expeditionary Brigade
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 23, 2003
Nasiriya, Iraq
Gender: Male
Hometown: Costa Mesa
High School: Newport Harbor High (Newport Beach)
Foreign Country of Birth: Mexico
Burial: Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside
I went to High School with Jose. We joined the Marines together and were in the same platoon in boot camp.
I remember 2 months into boot camp, he walked over to me one evening during the 20 minutes of liberty time we were given and he said, "How are you doing Harry?" I hadn't heard my first name said to me in over two months and it stunned me. He brought me back down to Earth and reminded me of the world that existed outside of that rather unpleasant, at the time, situation we were both in.
He was an incredible friend and a truly dedicated Marine.
— Harry Agdayan
November 12, 2010 at 7:58 p.m.
Three men in uniform knocked on Simona Garibay's door in Costa Mesa early Monday, walking past U.S. and Mexican flags proudly planted in her front lawn.

At first she was mystified that these strangers were asking for her by name.

"I didn't know who they were," she said, too upset to say much more. "Then they told me the horrible news."

Her 21-year-old son, Marine Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay, had been killed in combat in Iraq, the Marines told family members. Late Monday, the Department of Defense confirmed that Garibay was one of seven Marines killed in action Sunday near Nasiriyah, Iraq, in some of the heaviest fighting of the war to date. 

Also killed were Cpl. Jorge A. Gonzalez, 20, of Los Angeles
Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, 31, of Ventura
Lance Cpl. David K. Fribley, 26, of Lee, Fla.
Staff Sgt. Phillip A. Jordan, 42, of Brazoria, Texas
2nd Lt. Frederick E. Pokorney Jr., 31, of Nye, Nev.
Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Slocum, 22, of Adams, Colo.

Garibay, a stocky former football player from Newport Harbor High School, joined the Marines three years ago, right after graduation, handling missiles and mortars for a weapons platoon. He was shipped out to the Middle East three months ago.

The Marine, whose family moved to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico, when he was a baby, is the first Orange County serviceman to be killed in combat.

He wrote to this mother often and sent money home almost every month, family members said. In his last letter, which arrived from Kuwait on March 11, he asked for a package of his favorite Mexican candies and a CD of popular ranchera singer Vicente Fernandez.
Do read the entire LA Times article about Marine Corporal Jose Angel Garibay here,
find more at Wall Dads,
Fallen Heroes and the Orange County Register.

Also remembered here today is Marine Corporal Randal Kent Rosacker.

We are freedom's answer to fear. We do not bargain with terror. We stalk it, corner it, take aim and kill it.
— Jose Angel Garibay, in final letter to his girlfriend

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thomas Mullen Adams, Navy, Lieutenant -- Rest In Peace

Thomas Mullen Adams, 27

Navy, Lieutenant
Based: British Aircraft carrier Ark Royal
On exchange w/Royal Navy 849 Squadron
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 22, 2003
Persian Gulf, Int'l waters
Gender: Male
Hometown: La Mesa
High School: Grossmont High (La Mesa)
Burial: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego
"He was slow to anger, but great to laugh, love and serve," his uncle, Lt. Col. Marc Masquelier of the Air Force Reserve, said during the service.

Masquelier spoke of Adams' devotion to his younger sister, Cari. As children, he helped her learn to read and count to 20.

Adams grew up to be selfless and ready to serve his country. He had come from a family of privilege, and his grandfather served on the rebuilding boards of the Old Globe and the Aerospace Museum when both were destroyed by arson. He was a descendant of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

"He gave it all for service," said his uncle, Tim Moran. "There are not many like him."

"It takes a piece of you when they leave, but what he left makes up for it," said Eran Moscona, a commercial pilot who had been friends with Adams since their days in the Civil Air Patrol.

Adams graduated from the Naval Academy with honors and was a radar operator, whose job it was to detect low-flying aircraft and skimming missiles, as well as direct fighter aircraft.

"Tom was loving what he was doing, and was so impressed with his British crew that he was arranging inter-ship visits so our guys and their guys could learn from each other," said his friend and fellow Navy flier Lt. Mike Herbert, who escorted Adams' body on the trip home from Kuwait.

Herbert had just returned from flying in the first strike against Iraq when he heard the news that among the British casualties in the crash was one American.

"I knew who it was," Herbert said. "The bottom fell out. I came from one of the highest highs to one of the lowest lows."

Adams was honored with a rifle volley and a lone bugler played "Taps." When two S-3 Vikings screamed overhead, and Navy personnel folded an American flag and a British flag for his parents, the sound of gentle sobbing came from those who loved him. Family members and friends slowly rose and walked by the casket, which they covered in red, white and yellow roses.

He was buried on a hillside that looks toward Mount Helix, where he grew up.

"It's a personal consolation that he will be able to hear airplanes," said his aunt, Elizabeth Hansen.

At a reception following the service, fellow fliers talked about Adams.

"He was friends with everybody," said Navy Lt. Eric Nelson, who came from Washington, D.C., to the funeral, along with about 10 of the 30 people in Adams' class and company at the Naval Academy.

Some are deployed in Iraq, but "in spirit, all of them are here," Nelson said.

Adams' mother said she was grateful for the outpouring of love and support from all of the people who knew him.

"What you hope for your kids is that they are happy," she said, "and he truly was."
Read the entire San Diego Union Tribune article about Navy Lieutenant Thomas Mullen Adams
Union Tribune here, find more at Fallen Heroes and Military Times

Navy Lt. Mike Herbert places a rose atop the casket of Navy Lt. Thomas Mullen Adams at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Monday. Adams was killed March 22 in a helicopter crash. In Herberts left hand are shell casings from the rifle volley that saluted Adams.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jose Antonio Gutierrez, Marines, Lance Corporal -- Rest In Peace

Jose Antonio Gutierrez, 22

Marines, Lance Corporal
Based: Camp Pendleton
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 21, 2003
Umm Qasr (near), Iraq
Gender: Male
Hometown: Lomita
High School: North High (Torrance)
Foreign Country of Birth: Guatemala
Burial: Buried in Guatemala
Long before he ever traveled to the Persian Gulf, Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez was acquainted with perilous and uncertain journeys.

Lanky, quiet and full of ambition, Gutierrez, 22, is believed to be the second U.S. serviceman to die in combat, an American soldier with a distinctive Southern California background: He was among thousands of Central American immigrants who for years have made their way to this state in dangerous personal odysseys.

At age 16, he had traveled by himself from his home in Guatemala, making his way across Mexico into the United States, where he was taken in by an older couple, who later in life had begun sheltering immigrant children.

Gutierrez made the 2,000-mile journey across the continent as one of many young immigrants who come here from Latin America each year, seeking family members or jobs.

Gutierrez made the trip as many of his countrymen do -- by any means, said Hector E. Tobar, a longtime friend of the family who had taken in Gutierrez. On the way, he had hopped aboard at least 14 trains, Tobar said.

But like so many immigrants, Gutierrez's past was eclipsed by his new life as an American and as a would-be architect who was quickly learning English and whose eyes were firmly fixed on his future.
He left behind a sister in a poor neighborhood of Guatemala City, his official next-of-kin in military records, a Guatemalan government official said.

According to a military spokesman in the Middle East, Gutierrez died in battle about 4 p.m. Friday, struck by enemy fire as he fought alongside his fellow Marines near the southern Iraqi city of Umm al Qasr.

His death resounded through Guatemala on Sunday. Every major paper in the capital, Guatemala City, carried stories on Gutierrez, and local radio and TV also covered the story.

In taxicabs and restaurants, people talked of the death of Gutierrez. Some said it was easy to sympathize. Many in this city have relatives in the U.S., and a few talked of having a cousin or a nephew fighting with U.S. forces in the Middle East.

The American Embassy in Guatemala estimates that nearly 1,500 Guatemalans or Guatemalan Americans are in the U.S. military.

Guatemalan officials said little was known of Gutierrez's life in Guatemala. His sister, apparently his sole relative, was said to live in one of the most poverty-stricken and dangerous quarters of the crowded capital.
Read the entire LA Times article about Marine Lance Corporal Jose Antonio Gutierrez here
find more at Military Times
and Army Times
Visit Corporal Jose Antonio Gutierrez's Guest Book.
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, as seen in photos at the home of his sister in Guatemala City, was one of the first combat casualties of the war in Iraq. He had come to the U.S. from Guatemala as a teenager.
LOMITA, CA - APRIL 7: U.S. Marines escort Engracia Sirina Gutierrez, sister of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, into Mary Alacoque Catholic Church for a memorial mass for Gutierrez April 7, 2003 in the Los Angeles area city of Lomita, California. Gutierrez, killed March 21, 2003, was one of the first Americans killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Gutierrez came to the United States as an illegal immigrant from his native Guatemala and was posthumously made a citizen of the U.S. by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. 
Picture: Life Magazine.

Life image

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Hip To Be Square -- Sunday Afternoon PopRocks -- Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis and the News
Hip To Be Square

Honor, Responsibility, Ethics, Plain Language, Duty, Belief: Outsourced

by Chris Muir
As found daily over at Texas For Sarah Palin.

Michael Edward Bitz, Marines, Sergeant -- Rest In Peace

Michael Edward Bitz, 31

Marines, Sergeant
Based: Camp Lejeune, N.C.
2nd Assault Amphibious, 2nd Marine Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: March 23, 2003
Nasiriya, Iraq
Married, 4 children
Gender: Male
Hometown: Ventura
High School: Hueneme High (Oxnard)
Burial: Cremated
Of the U.S. Marines who died fighting on March 23 near Nasiriyah, Iraq, three -- Jorge Gonzalez, Michael Bitz and Randal Kent Rosacker -- were from California. Two were fathers, a third was a son who followed his father into the military. One was 31, settling into adulthood; the other two were barely 20. They left grieving parents, brothers, sisters and children -- including a set of twins and a 3-week-old baby who had never met their fathers.
In the last year, it looked as if Michael Bitz was on a track other men would envy.

He had renewed his vows with his wife, Janina, and the couple were expecting twins. A sergeant in the Marines, he loved his job so much that he reenlisted last fall. At 31, he was entering his prime -- a reckless, rootless kid turned responsible father of four and career military man.

On Tuesday, his mother reminisced about him as a single candle burned on the dining-room table in her Ventura home. In their last telephone call, he told his mom how much he loved her. In his last letter to her, he said he was her warrior.

Donna Bellman's home was awash in television crews and sympathetic neighbors. A wreath of red, white and blue ribbon hung on the door.

Bellman was tired and drawn but eager to talk about the son she would never again see and the month-old twins he never got to hold.

"Caleb and Taylor," she said, her voice trailing off. "He had to ship out about six weeks before they were born."
Read the entire LA Times article about Marine Sergeant Michael Edward Bitz (and Gonzalez and Rosacker) here, find more at Fallen Heroes and Military Times
Visit Sergeant Michael Edward Bitz's Guest Book.
A member of the North Dakota Patriot Guard pauses in reflection at the conclusion of the recognition ceremony which added three service members to the North Dakota Memorial to the Fallen in the Global War on Terrorism. The three were Sgt. Michael E. Bitz, United States Marine Corps, who was killed in action on March 23, 2003 at Nasiriya, Iraq, Spc. Keenan A. Cooper and Pfc. Jonathan C. Yanney, United States Army. The ceremony was on Sept. 11, 2010 in Bismarck, N.D. (Photo by Spc. Jessica Raasch, North Dakota National Guard)

Jorge Alanso Gonzalez
Randal Kent Rosacker
Keenan A. Cooper
Jonathan C. Yanney