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Marine Cpl. Joseph J. Heredia

Died November 20, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

22, of Santa Maria, Calif.; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Nov. 20 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds sustained Nov. 10 due to enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq.

Santa Maria Marine recalled as leader, patriot

Associated Press

SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Cpl. Joseph J. Heredia had dreamed since high school of joining the Marines, and by age 22 he had already re-enlisted once and was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

It was two months into that second tour that the Marine was wounded on Nov. 10 near Fallujah. He died Saturday in a hospital in Germany with his family by his side, including his wife, Natalia; mother, Monica Diaz; and 16-year-old brother.

“We’re heartbroken by what happened,” said his father-in-law, Isaac Berumen.

Heredia, who was a motor vehicle operator based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., was hit by shrapnel from an explosive. Wounded with him was Lance Cpl. Joseph Welke, 20, of Rapid City, S.D. Both died Saturday.

“He was a leader,” said David Parker, Heredia’s agricultural economics teacher at Santa Maria High School. “I think of him in class being so excited to graduate and go into the military to serve his country.”

Heredia ran track, played football and was a member of Future Farmers of America in high school, where he also met his wife.

He joined the Marines soon after graduation and had recently re-enlisted, his wife said, so that could remain with his unit and return to Iraq for a second tour of duty.

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