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Marine Lance Cpl. Nelson M. Lantigua

Died March 31, 2009 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Miami; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died March 31 in Taqaddum, Iraq, as the result of a non-hostile incident.

N.C.-based Marine dies in Iraq

The Associated Press

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — The military says a North Carolina-based Marine has died after a non-hostile incident in Iraq.

The Department of Defense said Thursday that 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Nelson M. Lantigua of Miami died on Tuesday in Anbar province. Officials said the incident is under investigation, but no details have been released.

Lantigua was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10 Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.

Followed cousin’s example in joining Corps

The Associated Press

Nelson M. Lantigua was the only child of a single mother who gave birth to him when she was 13 years old in Santiago, Dominican Republic. His mother, Maria Lantigua, struggled for years to bring her son to the United States. She finally succeeded in time for him to attend high school. Aunts, uncles and his grandmother stepped in to fill the familial gap in the United States, cooperatively raising Lantigua.

“Here, he learned to differentiate the good path from the wrong path. He grew as a person,” Rafael Lugo said of his son-in-law.

Lantigua, 20, of Miami, died March 31 of wounds suffered from a noncombat incident in Anbar province. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

After spending a few years in the United States, Lantigua longed to return to the Dominican Republic and raise a family.

But first he followed the example of his older cousin, Francisco Arturo Santos, who had joined the Marines. The family disapproved of his decision but relented when he told them he felt a need to serve his adoptive country.

He also is survived by his wife, Rossana.

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