Los Angeles Times
April 10, 2003

Family Recalls Marine as 'One of the Strongest'

Mourners honor Cpl. Jorge Gonzales, killed by Iraqi soldiers disguised as civilians.

By Hector Becerra
Times Staff Writer

Pallbearers pushed the coffin of Cpl. Jorge A. Gonzalez, 20, up the aisle of a simple Catholic church in Rialto on Wednesday as hundreds of
mourners rose to sing "God Bless America" for the young Marine who was killed fighting for his country.

His widow, Jazty, carried their infant son, Alonso, who was born weeks before his father was killed March 23 near Nasiriyah when Marines
were ambushed by Iraqi soldiers dressed as civilians.

His parents, Mario and Rosa Gonzalez, had learned of his death via television, watching in their Rialto home as an Iraqi soldier picked up the
body of their son and turned his face toward a camera.

At his funeral, it was the life of the young Marine who believed in his mission, in freeing the people of Iraq, that was remembered.

"He put others before himself," his widow said. "He was just one of a kind. He was a good man and his heart was pure."

When her 1-month-old son is old enough to understand, Jazty said, she will have the right words to explain the father he will never know.

"He was a doer," she said. "He was one of the strongest."

Father David Andel of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church told those gathered that watching parents bury a child is always hard.

"It's not normal for parents to bury their children," he said. "Children are supposed to bury their parents. Today [Mario and Rosa] are united
with the Virgin Mary, who buried her son, Jesus."

In recent days, the tightknit Gonzalez family has recalled a young man barely out of his teens who cared for his younger siblings and willingly
took on the responsibilities of marriage. In his final letter to his parents, he expressed joy at the birth of his first child and the conviction that he
could convince his childbirth-wary wife to have more.

Friends spoke about a lanky athlete, whose lean, 6-foot-2 frame disguised surprising strength on the soccer fields at El Monte High School.

"He showed passion for the game, but also a certain amount of self-sacrifice," his soccer coach, Ken Steele, said. "It's probably the way he was with the Marines,
and it's probably the way he was with his family."

His mother, Rosa, said she would remember his more boyish moments, the everyday reminders she gave to her son.

"Stand straight," she would tell him when he slumped. Jorge would adopt a ramrod military posture fitting for someone who joined the Marines as a means to realize
his longtime goal of becoming a police officer. But inevitably, slowly, she said, his shoulder blades and neck would betray him and he would assume the same
bird-of-prey posture.

"I know that he's probably with my father in heaven," she said during the rosary ceremony the night before the funeral. "But as a mother, I'm egotistical. Because I
don't want to let him go, because I miss him. I'm going to miss his hugs. His laugh. Those nights we were all together. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Holy Week. They
won't ever feel the same.... He was a sweet boy -- affectionate and respectful."

Gonzalez was buried at Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego as wind whipped off the ocean. A Marine played taps and an American flag was presented
to his widow.

In addition to her and their son and his parents, he is survived by five siblings: Mario, 21; Ivan, 16; Nancy, 14; Marisol, 9; and Alan, 7.

Times staff writer Megan Garvey contributed to this report.