Thursday, June 9, 2011

Salvador Guerrero, Marines, Lance Corporal -- Rest In Peace

Salvador Guerrero, 21

Marines, Lance Corporal
Based: Twentynine Palms, Calif.
1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: June 9, 2006
Qaim, Iraq
Gender: Male
Hometown: Whittier
High School: Pioneer High (Whittier)
Burial: Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside

June 11, 2010
To the Guerrero family and to family and friends who knew Salvador. We remember him on this solemn anniversary. We thank him for the ultimate gift he gave us for our freedom. We knew you as a child, the country remembers your bravery as an adult.
Your teachers at West Whittier Elementary School,
~ Monica Granado Taylor, Whittier, California

Intent on sparing his mother from worrying, Marine Lance Cpl. Salvador Guerrero told her during his regular calls home from Iraq that he was training in Japan and would be home soon.

But last week, three Marines in uniform arrived on Rosa Guerrero's doorstep in Whittier to tell her that her son had been killed in combat June 9 west of Baghdad.

He had been in Iraq since March, she learned.

Guerrero, 21, was killed in Al Anbar province when the Humvee he was driving was struck in the explosion of a roadside bomb, said his aunt, Maria Vega.

He was an ammunition specialist assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

That Guerrero had tried to shield his mother from the harsh reality of his assignment was no surprise to friends and relatives, who described the soldier as a quiet aspiring artist who loved adventure and was close to his family.

"He knew his mother would worry too much if she knew he was in Iraq," said girlfriend Laura Almanza, who along with Guerrero's other family members knew his true location.

Guerrero had been fascinated by the military since he was a young boy and went to extraordinary lengths to join the Marine Corps.

Guerrero was still living at home with his parents in Whittier when he enlisted, and his first application to the Marines was rejected because he was overweight, Vega said.

Undeterred, Guerrero buckled down, hitting the gym, running and dieting until he dropped from 250 pounds to 170, Vega said.

He reapplied to the Marines and was accepted. But, shortly after arriving at boot camp, his superiors raised questions about the tattoo of an angel that Guerrero had on one arm.

Initial concerns that it might be gang-related were dispelled and the military let him stay after military officials confirmed that the angel was religious in nature -- a depiction of St. Michael.

A grandmother had given Guerrero a prayer card with St. Michael to take with him into the military for protection and, concerned that he might lose it, he had the image tattooed on his arm, family members said.

The tattoo was a symbol of Guerrero's Catholic faith, and he attended Mass whenever possible, even while he was in Iraq, Vega said.

Guerrero was introduced to Almanza by mutual friends, and the couple were planning to wed, she said.

Almanza said she was attracted to Guerrero from the first time they met.

"He was very sweet. He was a complete gentleman," she said. "He had very, very good morals."

In his last phone call home, the Monday before he was killed, Guerrero told Almanza that his seven-month deployment might be shortened and that she should start making plans for them to attend a Marine Ball in November.

"He was excited that he might come home early," she said.

Although his military career was short, Guerrero won awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment ribbon.

In addition to his parents, Guerrero is survived by a brother, Rodolfo, 16.
Read the entire LA Times story about Marine Lance Corporal Salvador Guerrero here.
Read more and find pictures at LA IndyMedia.
Visit Lance Corporal Salvador Guerrero's Guest Book.

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