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Marine Cpl. Bernard G. Gooden

Died April 4, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

22, of Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; assigned to 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed during a firefight in central Iraq.

Bernard Gooden left his native Jamaica the day after he graduated from high school, seeking an education first in Canada and then in the United States.

With his mother living in Mount Vernon, N.Y., he came to the USA, hoping to attend either Fordham or New York University. But when he couldn’t afford tuition at those prestigious schools, Gooden joined the Marines. The corps would be his path to a college degree, and eventually a career in the law.

Gooden, 22, was killed during a firefight in Iraq on April 4.

With his death, a spark went out for his younger sister and only sibling, Raquel Davidson, 20. “He was adorable,” she said. “He was always laughing, always giving jokes, and enjoying doing new things.”

Davidson missed his last visit home, in December, because she was visiting Jamaica. But she spoke to him by phone the day before he left for the Middle East.

His enthusiasm for life and adventures was undimmed by going to war, she said. “He was having fun. He wanted to go.”

— USA Today and The Associated Press

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