Blue Star Moms honor Marines killed 5 years ago
By Joe Proudman
Posted: 04/04/2009 08:03:05 PM PDT

It's been five years since Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Travis Layfield of Fremont became one of the first Alameda County service members to die in the war in Iraq.

On Saturday the Alameda County Blue Star Moms — a new support group that counts Layfield's mother Diane as one of its members — saluted Layfield and others who died with him April 6, 2004.

About 150 people attended the event, which started at 1:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hall in Fremont's Niles district.

"I always honor them every year," Diane Layfield, said. "It's a remembrance celebration. We want to celebrate their lives."

The service was not open to the public, but some local dignitaries attended, including retired Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Helix, a former mayor of Concord, and state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro. Also invited were Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty and Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman.

Layfield was 19 years old, just out of Fremont's Washington High School and three weeks into his deployment in Iraq when his unit was ambushed in Iraq's Anbar province. Nine other Marines and a Navy medic were killed alongside Layfield.

"I've been shedding tears all day long. I've been shedding tears every day, actually," Diane Layfield said. "Not one day goes by without thinking about him and remembering him."

Saturday's event featured a welcome by Diane Layfield and Layfield's sister, Tiffany Layfield, followed by some words from


Two other families of service members who died alongside Layfield also attended.

They included the families of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kyle D. Crowley of San Ramon and Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Fernando "Doc" Mendez-Aceves of Puerto Rico.

In previous years, the Layfield family has held a simple family remembrance to mark the sad anniversary.

This year, the Alameda County Blue Star Moms decided to hold a larger service.

"Diane is one of our moms and this is the fifth anniversary and we wanted to do something special to honor her sacrifice and her son's sacrifice," said Julie Ramirez, president of the group. "We wanted to make sure she knew we feel very strongly and deeply for her loss."