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MILITARY DEATHS

Marine Cpl. Roberto Abad, 22, Bell Gardens; Dies in Combat

August 15, 2004|Jean-Paul Renaud | Times Staff Writer

Maybe he knew he wasn't coming back.

The hourlong drive in late May to take Roberto Abad back to Camp Pendleton -- one made many times before -- was a little more solemn. As his father drove, they chatted about soccer and future plans. It was not the first time Roberto Abad, 22, was leaving with his Marine unit to Iraq. Still, the parting hug was a little longer, a little tighter. Something was different.

"I had a feeling inside of me that I never understood, like a spark inside," said his father, Roberto Abad. "Looking back, that was a sign."

Cpl. Roberto Abad, of Bell Gardens died Aug. 6 in combat in Najaf province. He was assigned to Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force..

He was buried with full military honors Saturday in Calvary Cemetery in Whittier.

Abad joined the Marines when he was 18 -- right after high school. He participated in the invasion of Iraq and then returned to Camp Pendleton in 2003. He was ordered back to Iraq this year.

Abad was not looking forward to going back, his brother, Diego, recalled."He saw a different world over there," he said. "He came back and told me how some Iraqi people reacted. He would tell me that some Iraqis weren't happy with the U.S. coming back."

The oldest of seven children, Abad often offered guidance to his siblings, his brother said.

"I looked up to him my whole life," said Diego Abad, who joined the Marines in February and is now in boot camp.

His brother's death, he said, has strengthened his determination to serve. "He would tell me to never give up on anything you believe in."

Though he loved being a Marine, Roberto Abad was looking forward to his future, relatives said. He planned to be a firefighter, go to college and marry his girlfriend, who is expecting.

"He wanted to have a child in case he never came back," his father said. "We're going to be able to have a memory of him now."

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