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Marine Cpl. Adam Zanutto, 26, Caliente; Dies of Wounds After a Roadside Bombing

April 02, 2006|Peter Y. Hong | Times Staff Writer

Adam O. Zanutto, 26, was living out a childhood ambition when he joined the Marines.

Growing up outside Bakersfield in the rural community of Caliente, Calif., Zanutto had been intrigued by his father's time as a soldier in Vietnam.

"He would see the uniform hanging in the closet, look at my pictures, watch things on the History Channel; then he really took interest after 9/11," said his father, Richard Zanutto.

Four years ago, Adam told his father that he was joining the Marine Corps. He was continuing a family tradition of military service. "It was almost like a calling; he had cousins, uncles" who fought in wars, his father said.

Richard Zanutto said even though his own war service might have inspired his son, "I kind of didn't agree with him.

"After going through the Vietnam War and the way things transpired there, of course we all do this for our country, but I'm not sure it was the right thing to do in Vietnam, and I'm not sure what we're doing in Iraq is the right thing," he said. But he said he felt more strongly that "you have to let your kids make their own decisions."

Cpl. Adam Zanutto died March 6 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., of wounds suffered Feb. 25 when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb in Ramadi, Iraq, west of Baghdad. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

"He was the first in our family, out of all the relatives who have been in war, to die," his father said.

Zanutto had been studying criminal justice at Bakersfield College when he enlisted. He was on his third tour of Iraq when he was wounded. He was scheduled to leave in March and be discharged in October, his father said. Adam's wife, Amber, had moved to Bakersfield to prepare for his return, and he hoped to become a Kern County sheriff's deputy, his father said. He had sent an e-mail two days before, saying he had 27 days left in Iraq and was eager to be home.

The Zanuttos were able to see their son in the hospital before he died during a medically induced coma intended to relieve pressure on his swelling brain, his father said. His mother and wife were at his side when he died. His father had returned home for a quick trip to take care of business, expecting to return to Bethesda before Adam was out of his coma.

An American flag had flown outside the Zanuttos' house all of Adam's life. "If I'd miss a day, he would be out there to put it up," his father said. The day Adam died, he said, "the hardest thing for me to do in my life was lower that flag."

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