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Marine Corps Sgt. Edgar Lopez, 27, Los Angeles; Killed in an Explosion

September 12, 2004|Wendy Thermos | Times Staff Writer

Edgar E. Lopez of Los Angeles not only loved his two children, he was a kid at heart.

His wife, Rosie, said she will always treasure her memories of one of the family's last outings before he left for Iraq with his Marine Corps unit on July 7. The four of them went with some of his Marine friends to a beach near their base at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

"He was so full of life, and he was having so much fun with the kids, he was like a kid himself," his wife said. On hands and knees, he patiently built a perfect sandcastle, she said, and lightheartedly walked the beach in search of seashells with his 4-year-old daughter, Anamaria.

Lopez, a 27-year-old sergeant, was killed in enemy action Aug. 28 in Iraq's Babil province, according to the Defense Department. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.

Military officials gave his wife few details except that he was killed while trying to help Marines under attack. "The only thing they said was there was an explosion, and he was in one of the first vehicles in his unit," she said. "When he turned back to make sure everyone was OK, he got hit by a second explosion."

Relatives said that Lopez, a Los Angeles native, had been unsure of what to do after he graduated from high school. But one day he came home and told his mother, Ana Fajardo, that he had enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Although friends and family members had always seen a cheerful Lopez, his wife said, when it came to military duty he was businesslike. "I am very proud of him," she said. "He was a dedicated Marine, and he was very proud of that too."

Lopez was deployed twice to Iraq, initially serving there from January to June 2003. His letters to his wife often mentioned his military activities. "He'd say, 'My unit went out on seven missions today,' but he also was constantly asking how the kids were," his wife said.

Despite his dedication to the Marines, he planned to leave when his enlistment expired in three years, she said. "In his letters, he would say he wanted to get out because he was always gone and he wasn't watching his kids grow up," she said, adding that he talked of becoming a police officer or firefighter.

At home, one of his favorite pastimes was watching sports on TV, especially the Raiders, the Dodgers and the Lakers. "He would always wear his Raiders jersey to watch the games, and he had one for our son too," said his wife, referring to 2-year-old Edgar Jr. "I guess he thought if he wore it, they would win."

Outgoing and friendly, Lopez socialized at every opportunity. He loved to invite friends over and grill their favorite food outdoors. "There was always a barbecue going at the house," his wife said with a laugh.

He also was a dependable friend, she said. "One of the last things I remember him doing was that when a friend of his got into a car crash, he said, 'You can borrow one of our cars until you get yours back,' " his wife said. "That's the type of person he was, always kindhearted. He would go out of his way for anyone."

Lopez was buried Tuesday at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood.

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