At least two Hawai'i Marines are killed
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
By William Cole
At least two, and possibly three, Hawai'i Marines were killed Wednesday in Iraq's western Anbar province, turning Thanksgiving into a day of mourning for their families.
The Pentagon said Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Alonzo, 21, of Dumas, Texas, died during combat operations.
Ohio newspapers reported that Pfc. Heath Warner, 20, of Canton, was killed along with two other Marines by a roadside bomb that hit their Humvee at about 10 a.m.
A third Marine killed in the incident has not been identified.
Marine Corps Base Hawai'i said Alonzo was a team leader assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. He deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion from May 2005 to January of 2006, the base said, and left for Iraq and a seven-month tour in September.
"We're doing OK. We're coping," said Erica Rizzi, Alonzo's sister and a Navy hospital corpsman who also is based at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i. Rizzi yesterday had returned to Texas to be with family.
Rizzi said her younger brother was a kind person who joined the Corps out of high school and initially wanted to be a reconnaissance Marine. Since joining, however, he had decided to go to college and was expecting to leave the Marines in 2008. Her brother joined the Marines in June 2004 and reported to Kane'ohe Bay later that year.
The Marine, who was single, was into remodeling trucks and had a Chevy Silverado, she said.
"He had really big plans for the first car he ever bought," she said, "and he couldn't wait to get back from Iraq."
Her brother was "Mr. Popular" at Dumas High School and was a huge fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
He always had time to help family and friends, said Rizzi, 24.
"With the people that I guess came straight from boot camp to Hawai'i, especially after he came back from Afghanistan, he was so nice," she said. "He would take them in and would ask if he could borrow my car and take them places."
On Thanksgiving Day, U.S. and Marine Corps flags flew side by side on the porch of Scott and Melissa Warner's brick two-story home in Ohio in recognition of their son's service.
On a MySpace Web page, Warner says he is based at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i. In a Sept. 6 post, he said he was "numb" with the departure to Iraq just a few days away.
"The bottom line is that I will be there approximately 6+ months," Warner said. "I will be in a rotation so to speak around a certain area in which I cannot tell you, but think of my deployment as a vacation so to speak."
Next to his picture he wrote, "If you're gonna die, die standing up."
The Repository of Canton newspaper reported that Warner had been a break-dancing instructor at an Ohio studio after being a student there.
On his Web page, Warner says he is a rifleman at Kane'ohe Bay, he'd like to have children "some day," and for a major listed: "Defending freedom."
Both Warner and Alonzo were influenced to join the Corps after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, family said.
With the latest deaths, at least 13 Hawai'i Marines have been killed in combat in western Iraq since late September.
Multi-National Corps Iraq put out a release yesterday saying three Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7, the higher command for Hawai'i Marines, died Wednesday from wounds due to enemy action.
The Kane'ohe Bay Marine base does not confirm total deaths until names are released by the Pentagon.
Approximately 1,000 Marines with the 2nd Battalion are serving in the Haditha Dam area northwest of Baghdad.
Western Anbar province is considered the Sunni heartland and a major source of resistance to U.S. forces. Hawai'i Marines have called it an "exceptionally hostile" environment.
Reach William Cole at email@example.com.