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Marine Lance Cpl. Juan C. Venegas

Died April 7, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Simi Valley, Calif.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Twentynine Palms, Calif.; attached to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force; killed April 7 in a vehicle accident while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

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Simi Valley Marine killed in Iraq

Associated Press

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — A 21-year-old Marine who dreamed of becoming a professional boxer was killed in a vehicle accident in Iraq.

Lance Cpl. Juan C. Venegas died Thursday in Iraq’s Anbar province, according to the Defense Department. At the time of his death, Venegas was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

“He was unstoppable to me, like a machine. I really looked up to him,” Venegas’ 19-year-old sister, Erica, told the Ventura County Star. She said her brother wanted to become firefighter when he returned from the war and dreamed of becoming a boxer.

Venegas was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Venegas is the fourth Simi Valley resident to die in Iraq. Army Spc. Michael A. DiRaimondo, 22, died Jan. 8, 2004; Marine Cpl. Christopher A. Gibson, 23, died April 22, 2004; and Navy medic John Daniel House, 28, died Jan. 26.

The interim principal of Simi Valley High School, Barbara Hatton, said Venegas’ name will be added to a plaque encased in glass in the school library containing the names of other fallen soldiers stretching back to World War II.

“This is our third graduate that we have lost in the Iraq war,” Hatton said. “It’s just so sad — for his family, for our school and the community.”

Venegas’ fiancee, 23-year-old Mariam Khoury, was among the mourners who gathered Saturday in his parents’ apartment.

“He wanted the perfect wedding for us,” she said. “With us it was beyond love; we were soul mates.”

The two met in 2003 through mutual friends after Venegas had enlisted.

“He was the best person anyone could possibly be. Respectful and caring, a classic gentleman, and he never changed,” she said.


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