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thedrifter
05-17-06, 03:23 PM
Marine was proud to serve
Jose Marin killed during combat operation in Iraq

By Tim Vandenack
The Hutchinson News
tvandenack@hutchnews.com

LIBERAL - Up until he left Kansas for the U.S. Marines, life for Lance Cpl. Jose Marin revolved around three things.

"A lot of church, work and school," said his younger brother, Tomas Marin.

Now, after the Marine's death Sunday during a combat operation in Iraq, his family is left to recall the young man's religious temperament and the gratification he got from serving his adopted country.

"He told me that in his own way, he had a relationship with God and God had him there for a reason," said Tomas Marin, remembering the long-distance exchanges with his brother, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico. "He was proud of what he was doing."

Details are sketchy, but Jose Marin, 22, a 2003 graduate of Liberal High School, died at the hands of "enemy forces" during some sort of operation in the restive Al Anbar province in western Iraq, according to the U.S. Marines. Another Marine, Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu Yearby, 21, of Overbrook, Okla., also died in the incident.

The Marin family learned of his death Sunday, and on Tuesday they gathered at the Liberal home of his grandmother, Gabina Marin, to mourn and make sense of the tragic turn of events. Funeral arrangements tentatively are set for Sunday, and Tomas Marin says his brother is to be buried in Liberal.

"He was always a good boy, dedicated to his studies, his work," said Marin's father, Jose Marin Sr., recalling his son's work on an area hog farm during his high school days. "He was always a hard worker."

Some family members had misgivings about his decision to join the Marines in 2003, soon after graduation from high school.

"We didn't like the idea much," Gabina Marin said. "Me, I insisted that he not go."

But once he joined, Marin Sr. said his son earned a special spot in their hearts. Jose Marin was based out of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and served an eight-month stint in Afghanistan before deploying to Iraq last March.

"We told him that we supported him, that we loved him, that he was our hero," said Marin Sr., who works at the Dillons grocery store here.

No turning back

Jose Marin was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas. In 1991, he moved with his family to Kismet, a small Seward County community, and then Liberal, where he grew up.

Tomas Marin said his brother's urge to join the service came out of the blue. Up till then, church activities, school, work, cars and music had been the mainstays of his life.

"One day he just came home from school and said, 'I'm joining the Marines,' " Tomas Marin said.

Despite the suddenness, once the decision was made, there was no turning back.

"He was going to the Marines as soon as he got out of here," recalled Brian Fowler, an automotive mechanics instructor who taught Marin during his high school days. "He was excited about it."

Indeed, Janet Heston, the registrar at Liberal High School, remembers Marin returning to the school soon after finishing basic training to greet his old classmates, beaming with pride in his uniform. "He was a real likable kid," she said.

Through it all, Jose Marin retained his strong religious sensibilities - he belonged to the evangelical Maranatha Elim Church of Christ here - and called his family whenever he could. He last contacted them on May 9, and everything seemed to be fine.

But the ways of war are wily, and now his surviving family members are left to draw on the same reservoir of faith that kept Jose Marin going.

"You just ask God to give you strength," Tomas Marin said.

Ellie