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Marine Cpl. Carlos E. Gil Orozco

Died September 10, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

23, of San Jose, Calif.; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Sept. 10 while conducting combat operations in Ashraf, Iraq. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Jon T. Hicks Jr.

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Families, friends remember N.C.-based Marines killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Carlos Gil Orozco wasn’t a great student, but one goal pushed him to hit the books: becoming a Marine.

“He was kind of a troublemaker, you know, he got bad grades and wouldn’t do his homework,” said his sister, Myriam Johanna Gil Orozco. “But he wanted to be a Marine. So he studied real hard, especially algebra. He’d stay up all night studying.”

After failing the entrance test twice, he passed.

But after just two years of military service, Cpl. Gil Orozco, 23, who was based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was killed Sept. 10 during combat operations in Iraq’s Anbar province, the Defense Department announced Sept. 12.

His family told the San Jose Mercury News that his tank rolled over an explosive device. Also killed was Lance Cpl. Jon T. Hicks Jr., 20, of Atco, N.J. Both Marines were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Gil Orozco’s parents moved the family from Colombia to the U.S. when he was 8 years old, hoping to give their children a better education. They became frustrated when their son didn’t do well in school and thought the Marines would be good for him.

“My dad was actually happy,” Myriam Gil Orozco said. “He’d rather have him be a Marine than out on the streets being in gangs or doing drugs.”

The married father of two left behind a 3-month-old son, Kenny, whom he had only seen in pictures and over the Internet. He had been scheduled to return home Nov. 2, and had planned on becoming a police officer.

The family was distraught when a group of Marines delivered the news of Gil Orozco’s death Sept. 10 and had trouble controlling their emotions, his sister said.

“My dad tried to hit the Marines,” she said. “He started hitting his head against the wall so hard that a vein broke in his forehead.”

“I’ve cried so much that I don’t have any more tears left,” she said.

In addition to his sister and infant son, Gil Orozco is survived by his parents, Carlos Gabriel Gil and Myriam Orozco; his wife, Esmarelda Gil; and a 5-year-old son, Carlos Alexander Gil Ibarrola.

Hicks joined the Marines in January 2006 after graduating from Hammonton High School in June 2005. Family members said he aspired to a career in law enforcement. He grew up on the same street as Navy SEAL David M. Tapper, 32, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2003.

Tapper’s mother, Judith, described the loss of her neighbors’ son as “devastating.”

“When we put David’s name on the marker in Atco, we hoped to heaven we’d never have to put another one up there,” she said.

He is survived by his parents, Jon J. and Cathy Hicks, and a brother, Kyle.

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