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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

reviewjournal.com -- News: LAS VEGAN KILLED IN IRAQ: Fallen Marine saluted

"It's getting tight around here. There have been a few near misses with road bombs. It's scary, but I'm tough. I'll be okay."

That was how Las Vegas Marine Cpl. William I. Salazar began an e-mail message last week from Qaim, Iraq, to his father, Gus.

Two days later, on Friday, Cpl. Salazar, a 26-year-old videographer who was documenting the war, was killed in a car-bomb attack as he rode in the passenger seat of a Humvee.

As he always did, he carried a rifle as well as a camera, but it wasn't enough to deter the suicide bomber who pulled alongside of the Humvee close enough to detonate the explosive-packed vehicle, causing fatal injuries to Salazar, an Iraqi interpreter and two soldiers.

The Pentagon has identified the soldiers as Sgt. Michael G. Owen, 31, of Phoenix and Spc. Jonathan J. Santos, 22, of Whatcom, Wash.

In a telephone interview Monday, Gus Salazar, of Winnetka, Calif., reflected on his son's e-mail.

In it, William Salazar wrote: "I'm still alive and well. Happy Birthday. I always forget your birthday so if I'm late or early, at least I tried to remember."

Gus Salazar wrote back, "You did fine. Thank you very much for remembering my birthday. Love, Dad."

From now on, he said, "My birthday will never be the same ... because I won't be celebrating birthdays, I'll be celebrating memorials."

When his son arrived in Iraq in May, Gus Salazar said his thoughts were that he "needed to support the war and support William."

"Now after this has happened, the war is over for me," he said.
reviewjournal.com -- News: LAS VEGAN KILLED IN IRAQ: Fallen Marine saluted

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