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Thread: Base mourns loss of 'Hero'
04-18-03, 03:11 PM #1
Base mourns loss of 'Hero'
Base mourns loss of 'hero'
Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification Number: 2003416202711
Story by Cpl. Jose L. Garcia
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif(April 16, 2003) -- Heaven must have needed a hero.
That's how Erica Rios reconciles the loss of her high-school sweetheart, whom she married in 1996, only to lose him nearly two weeks ago as he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"He prepared me for this before he left. I can only tell you that I'm comforted knowing he's in a better place," she said Wednesday at Marine Memorial Chapel, after a standing-room-only crowd of 450 mourners gathered to honor her late-husband, Sgt. Duane R. Rios.
Rest in Peace
"I mean, he's where he belongs right now. I can't be mad at God for wanting a hero up there, too," she said.
Rios, 25, raised by his grandmother in Hammond, Ind., was killed in action April 4 during a firefight in central Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, based at Camp Pendleton.
Some mourners shed tears as they gazed upon Rios' picture adorning the altar.
"We will miss him so much and I will miss him the most," Erica said afterward. "He will always have a piece of my heart with him.
"He wanted to be there. He would have had it no other way. He was a spectacular man. He was so excited to be over there. After all the training they did, I remember him telling me he was ready for action. That's the type of Marine he was."
She characterized him as "infectious" with "a laugh you could pick out of a million people."
"He loved his family, friends and Marines," she said.
Her husband prized his integrity - so much that he hesitated to tell her about a speeding ticket he got riding a motorcycle, according to Navy Lt. Gary B. Atkinson, battalion chaplain for 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, who addressed the congregation.
The account didn't temper one young Marine's esteem for his sergeant.
"I strive to be like him," said Lance Cpl. Jason A. Thach, a member of 1st CEB who didn't deploy to Iraq. "He was my squad leader - the best leader I ever had. He brought out the best in everyone. People like Sergeant Rios make the Marine Corps what it is."
Rios joined the Corps Jan. 26, 1999.
He deployed Feb. 4. Jim L. Starnes left the Marine Corps last summer after serving with Rios at the base. He said Rios was impressive, even as a young lance corporal.
"He had a powerful presence and an intimidating look," Starnes said. "He would always want people around him to strive for excellence. It's a shame he's not here right now."
Family and friends console Erica Rios, wife of Sgt. Duane R. Rios, at a memorial service for her late-husband at Camp Pendleton's Marine Memorial Chapel April 16. Rios, a combat engineer with the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, was killed in action April 4 during combat operations in central Iraq. An estimated 450 poeple turned out.
Photo by: Staff Sgt. Marc Ayalin
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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