Sadness, anger and fear. The death of young Marine Pfc. Domingo Arroyo in Somalia this week brought a mix of emotions to his family, his friends and this nation. He had survived the front lines of the Persian Gulf War, only to be cut down by a sniper's bullet in Mogadishu.
The 21-year-old, who was from a Marine unit based at Twentynine Palms, Calif., was shot in the head Tuesday night when Somali gunmen opened fire on his foot patrol.
He was the U.S. military's first fatality in Operation Restore Hope, the campaign to bring food to the starving in Somalia. One day later, a Navy corpsman was wounded in the shoulder by sniper fire. Attacks on U.S. patrols have increased as the military has stepped up its efforts to confiscate arms from Somali gangs.
The nation's condolences go to Arroyo's grief-stricken family. They are awaiting the return of his remains to Elizabeth, N.J., where the Marine spent his teen-age years. Arroyo had hopes of attending college after being discharged in March.
Some of his grieving Marine buddies are bitter. Marine Pvt. Robert Lowery, who survived the Gulf experience with Arroyo, said of his best friend: "And now his life has been taken unnecessarily. I can't help but feel he died in vain."
He did not. Arroyo served his nation courageously in America's unprecedented humanitarian effort to provide the Somali people with one of the basics of life--food.
Arroyo died as a hero for them and for all of us. He died trying to help people who for the moment are tragically unable to help themselves.