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05-19-04, 06:26 AM
Marine earns citizenship through service
Mexican native battles for his adopted nation in Iraq

By Kevin Sites
NBC News
Updated: 11:20 a.m. ET May 17, 2004

FALLUJAH, Iraq - At the age of 9, Carlos Gomez crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico along with his father, mother and two sisters. They had heard stories about the opportunities in the United States, dreamed about them, wanted them so badly they ran through oncoming traffic on the I-805 freeway to get to them.

The family didnít stop until they reached San Diego as fear, fatigue and the Border Patrol faded into the southern horizon along with their homeland.

The Gomez family stayed in the United States, overcame the slurs and paid back the opportunities with hard work for menial wages.

Now, 12 years later, Marine Lance Cpl. Gomez has paid a heavy price for his adopted country, sacrifice on the Iraqi battlefield.

Fallujah surrounded
The scene was Fallujah, a hotbed of anti-American violence where U.S. forces have engaged in a tense and often violent showdown with Sunni militia groups.

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which took over responsibility for the Al Anbar province from the Armyís 82nd Airborne Division, surrounded the city after four American contractors were brutally murdered in late March.

Gomez was a team leader for second platoon, Echo Company of the 2-1 Marines, whose job was to cordon off a portion of Fallujahís slums known as the Joan region. It is where, U.S. military leaders believed, most of the insurgents were clustered.


Kevin Sites / NBC News
Marine Lance Cpl. Carlos Gomez in Fallujah, Iraq.