Kane'ohe Marine shared his love for soccer
By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Peter Boylan
Andres Aguilar Jr. loved the game of soccer and was happiest when playing or watching it on TV, his sister recalled yesterday.
A former midfielder/defender for Memorial High School in Victoria, Texas, the 21-year-old U.S. Marine Corps corporal would spend hours with his younger brother and sister playing pickup games in the park near the family's home.
"He taught me how to love and play soccer; he just loved the game so much," said Amanda Aguilar by phone from the family's home in Victoria. "He would watch me play (in high school), I would watch him play. We used to call each other up whenever there was soccer on TV. Even if it was 10 o'clock at night, we'd go find a soccer ball and kick it around. He was a fun guy to be around."
Andres Aguilar Jr. was killed Sunday along with five other Marines when the 7-ton truck they were riding in rolled over during a flash flood near Al Asad, Iraq. Aguilar was a communications technician with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i.
He had arrived in Iraq just last month.
Aguilar joined the Marine Corps in June 2002, was stationed in Hawai'i in March 2003, and deployed to Iraq in March 2006, according to a news release from Marine Corps Base Hawai'i. He had been deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment from November 2004 to June 2005.
Since the March 2003 start of the Iraq war, 65 Marines and sailors with Hawai'i-based units or Hawai'i ties have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Aguilar's family described him as a man who was always smiling, joking and driven to accomplish whatever he put his mind to. His respect and care for others overshadowed any concern for himself, his sister said, a trait lauded by his superiors in boot camp after he threw himself on top of a fake grenade during a live-fire drill.
Aguilar scored a 1470 on his SAT and graduated in the top 15 percent of a Memorial High School class of more than 900 students, his sister said. In addition to playing soccer, he lettered in football, track and cross country.
At his family's home sit two boxes of letters and applications sent to him from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Duke and other universities urging him to apply, but Aguilar had dreamed of serving his country since his junior year in high school.
"With his grades, we didn't know he was going into the service," she said. "He wanted to do his duty and help others. It's just like him."
Aguilar envisioned a career after the Corps and dreamed of being a pediatrician, telling his sister he would be so good that "she couldn't afford him," she said.
Without telling his parents, Aguilar filled out a form that asked Marine Corps recruiters to approach him on his 18th birthday, said his father, Andres Sr. While he never probed the reasons behind his son's desire to serve, Andres Sr. said his son had four uncles who served in the U.S. Army and a fifth retired from the U.S. Air Force.
Still, when the recruiters showed up at his door shortly after Andres Jr.'s 18th birthday, the family was surprised.
"He wanted to see the world and he did, but we didn't think this would happen to him," Aguilar's father said yesterday. "Even though it was a short 21 years, it was a good 21 years that he lived, the way I look at it. We'll miss the fact that he won't be coming home anymore and his brother and sisters won't have that older sibling to look up to. He won't be there for them."
Aguilar's awards include the Good Conduct Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and two Sea Service Deployment ribbons.
He is survived by his father, Andres Sr., his mother, Olivia, sisters Amanda, 19, and Andrea, 16, and brother Alejandro, 18. Memorial services are pending.
Reach Peter Boylan at email@example.com.