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Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Fernando A. Mendez-Aceves

Died April 6, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

27, of Ponce, Puerto Rico; assigned to the Naval Medical Center San Diego, 1st Marine Division Detachment, San Diego; killed April 6 while conducting combat operations in the Anbar province, Iraq.

Fernando Mendez-Aceves loved to take care of people. As the third of four sons, he was fiercely protective of his younger brother, Kenneth, 15. "His baby brother was his pastime," said his mother, Sandra Aceves. "They were always together." That nurturing attitude carried over to his service with a medical unit. "I know Fernando looked at their faces, and he was protecting his baby brother in all of them," his mother said. Mendez-Aceves, 27, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, was killed April 6 during an ambush in Ramadi, Iraq, while attempting to treat a fallen Marine. He was assigned to the Naval Medical Center San Diego. Born in Mexico City, Mendez-Aceves grew up in a family that moved around the globe, including countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, before settling in Puerto Rico. He wanted to enter college and become a physician. More recently, however, he aspired to become a Navy SEAL. Sandra Aceves got a letter from his platoon leader after her son's death: "I could tell he was a good man, and whoever raised him did a good job."

— Associated Press

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