1st Lt. Oscar Jimenez
Leader of Men-Loving Brother-Devoted Son
By Alex Roth
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
April 17, 2004
From somewhere in Iraq, Marine 1st Lt. Oscar Jimenez called his family recently and told his 15-year-old daughter, "Take care of your mom and your brothers. I'll be home soon."
"We were all planning a welcome-home party," his daughter, Vanessa, later wrote in a poem. "But it turned into a goodbye."
On Easter Sunday, the family learned that Jimenez, 34, who grew up in Logan Heights, had been killed that day in the Anbar province of Iraq. He was shot in an ambush by enemy forces, his sister, Sonia Jimenez of Linda Vista, said yesterday.
The news was especially devastating to his mother, Maria Noriega, who still lives in Logan Heights and who was so worried about her son's safety that he tried to avoid telling her that he was being sent overseas.
"She always feared all the time that something would happen to him," said his sister, 32, one of Jimenez's four siblings. "Every time she watched the news it was hard for her."
This had been Jimenez's second tour of duty in Iraq. He went overseas last year, returned to his base in Twentynine Palms last summer, and then went back to Iraq in February, according to his family. He also fought in the first Gulf War.
He was killed while serving as a logistic officer with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Regiment of the Marines' West Coast infantry division, headquartered at Camp Pendleton. His wife, Alejandrina, his two sons Oscar, 6, and Christopher, 3 and his daughter still live in Twentynine Palms.
"We supported my brother 100 percent," his sister said. "He loved the Marines and he died doing what he loved the most. I'm sure he didn't want to die but he knew what the risk was. He's our hero."
She described him as a hard-working guy who loved riding dirt bikes in his free time. He attended La Jolla High School, she said.
Family members at Jimenez's Twentynine Palms home referred questions to the Marines, who issued a written statement from the family describing Jimenez as "always three steps ahead of the game. He always said, 'I got it.' "
His military awards include the Purple Heart, the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement medal with "V" device for valor, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Good Conduct Medal, among other honors.
In a poem released by the Marines, his daughter wrote, "You have already gone to so many wars/You have went to both Gulf wars/And you said, 'This is the last time I'm going'/But you had to go again."