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Marine Sgt. Moses D. Rocha

Died August 5, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

33, of Roswell, N.M.; assigned to Battalion Landing Team 1/4 (1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment), 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Aug. 5 of injuries sustained in enemy action near Najaf, Iraq.

New Mexico Marine killed in Iraq eulogized

Associated Press

ROSWELL, N.M. — A Roswell Marine sergeant who was killed in Iraq was remembered by friends as a strong man with a powerful presence.

Sgt. Moses Daniel Rocha, 33, was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart before his burial service Saturday at South Park Cemetery.

Rocha’s friend Melanie Varagon described him as “Superman.”

“He just had that aura about him like nothing could hurt him and he helped make you a stronger person by being near him,” she said. “He was such a strong person who could always lift your spirits up.”

Rocha’s family had hoped his half-brother would be released from jail to attend his memorial service and burial. But a judge refused to release Aloysius Sanchez Jr., 21, from the Lincoln County Detention Center.

Rocha died Aug. 5 near the Iraqi city of Najaf. He was driving to recover supplies for his unit when he came under fire from Iraqi militants armed with guns and mortars, according to Capt. Christopher Teague, a Marine Corps family assistance liaison.

Rocha was serving his second tour in Iraq. He had graduated from Goddard High School in 1990 and joined the Marine Corps at age 24. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton before being deployed to Iraq.

Rocha’s natural father, two sisters and one brother live in Orange County, Calif. Rocha’s mother, Velina Sanchez, his step-father and three brothers live in Roswell.

Rocha is also survived by his daughter, Miranda Pruitt.

Rocha is the fifth New Mexico serviceman to die in Iraq since the war began and the second from Roswell to die in August. Army Sgt. Tommy Gray died Aug. 3 after a motor pool accident in the city of Taji.

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