Age 26. Married, 2 children. Killed in action: Mar. 28, 2003
As Marine Sgt. Fernando Padilla-Ramirez slogged across southern Iraq chasing the lead elements of the American invasion force, he dreamed of only one thing: He wanted to be a cop. The Yuma, Ariz. native had already secured a spot at the police academy. He even told them to "hold a motorcycle" for him. Fernando had grown up a block away from the local police station in Yuma and, at age 14, joined the youth Police Explorer program. By late March, coalition forces had raced across the Mesopotamian deserts to within 50 miles of Baghdad. Some units had moved so fast that they outran their supply trains. In the face of insurgent attacks and blinding sandstorms, Fernando's unit was charged with speeding supplies northward. But the would be cop and father of two children was destined for a last, ill-fated caper.
On March 28, Fernando had been last seen conducting convoy operations near the killing fields of Nasiriyah. Then he simply vanished. He was listed as missing in action. On the thirteenth day, they found his lifeless body. This time, the "perps" had won - and a silent motorcycle in the Arizona desert would forever remain without its rightful rider.
Marine Sgt. Fernando Padilla-Ramirez26, of Yuma, Ariz.; assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron-371, Marine Wing Support Group-37, Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Ariz.; went missing while conducting convoy operations near Nasiriyah, Iraq. His remains were identified April 10.
Missing Ariz. Marine last seen in convoy
Military officials notify Sgt. Padilla-Ramirez's family Saturday of his disappearance near an Iraqi town.
The Associated PressMarch 31, 2003PHOENIX
A Marine from San Luis who was last seen conducting convoy operations near Nasiriyah was listed as missing yesterday by the Department of Defense.Relatives of Sgt. Fernando Padilla-Ramirez, 26, were notified by the military of his status Saturday and were waiting anxiously for more information, said his mother, Lorenza R. Padilla."We're very sad," she said from her home in San Luis, her voice trembling during a phone conversation. "We're thinking the worst."Padilla-Ramirez is assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. He was last seen Friday, according to a Defense Department release.No other information was immediately available. Officials at the Yuma air station didn't immediately return phone calls seeking comment yesterday to The Associated Press.Padilla-Ramirez was deployed about a month ago, leaving about five days after the birth of his second son, said Padilla. He also has a 5-year-old boy, she said.Padilla said she hasn't spoken to her son since he left but has received news about him through her daughter-in-law.The mother said her son was born in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, across the border from San Luis. He was naturalized about two years ago, she said.She said he joined the Marines as a teenager, served for four years and then signed up for another three. He is in the last year of his military commitment, Padilla said.Padilla-Ramirez is one of two Arizona residents listed among those missing in Iraq. The other, Pfc. Lori Piestewa of Tuba City, is a member of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company, which was attacked by Iraqi soldiers March 23
US marine executed and his corpse displayed in Public
US Marines moved into the southern Iraqi town of Shatrah today to recover the body of a dead comrade which had been hanged in the town square, officers said.
Hundreds of troops were dispatched on the operation after intelligence reports indicated the body of a dead American, who was killed in a firefight last week, had been paraded through the streets and hanged in public.
"We would like to retrieve the body of the marine but it is not our sole purpose," said Lieutenant-Colonel Pete Owen, of the First Marine Expeditionary Force.
Military sources said another part of the operation was to arm local militias to fight against members of the ruling Baath party loyal to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Shatrah is some 40 km north of Nasiriyah, where Iraqi forces have been harassing US supply lines and putting up tough resistance for more than a week