Ariz. Marine Killed
Missing since March 29
By Nedra Rhone
STAFF WRITER; This story was supplemented with wire service reports.
It had been a heart-wrenching two-week wait for the family of Marine
Sgt. Fernando Padilla-Ramirez. On Friday, their worst thoughts were
Padilla-Ramirez, 26, of San Luis, Ariz., missing since March 29, was
killed in action in Iraq, the Defense Department confirmed. Last seen
during convoy operations near Nasiriyah, the Marine's remains were identified Thursday. The family, contacted at the home of
Padilla-Ramirez's mother, declined to comment yesterday, referring calls to the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, where Padilla-Ramirez was
assigned to the Marine Wing Support Squadron 371.
"The family is pretty torn up right now," said San Luis Mayor Joe Harper. "It is the first time we have had anybody die in a war in our city."
A small border town of about 20,000 in western Arizona, San Luis flew
flags at half-staff in honor of the Marine who was born in San Luis
Rio Colorado, Mexico. He became an American citizen two years ago. After he was reported missing, the San Luis police fastened yellow
ribbons to the grilles of their patrol cars. He had wanted to be a police officer.
Padilla-Ramirez left for Iraq only about five days after the birth of his second son. He is also father to a 5-year-old.
Saddened family members anxiously waited for official word of the Marine,
who was in the last year of his military commitment.
Padilla-Ramirez had joined the Marines as a teenager and after serving four years decided to sign up for another three, his mother, Lorenza
R. Padilla, told The Associated Press.
Padilla-Ramirez was the fourth Arizona resident killed in action in the Middle East.
"We are very, very aware that freedom is not free," Harper said, "and unfortunately, it was our city's turn to pay the price."
Yesterday, Pentagon officials confirmed two additional deaths. Army
Staff Sgt. Terry W. Hemingway, 39, of Willingboro, N.J., was killed in
combat Thursday. Army Sgt. 1st Class John W. Marshall, 50, of Los Angeles, died in combat Tuesday.
This story was supplemented with wire service reports.
Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.