Marine Cpl. Jose A. Garibay

Marine Cpl. Jose A. Garibay

Died March 23, 2003 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Costa Mesa, Calif.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed in action near Nasiriyah, Iraq.

Some of life’s sweetness was on its way to Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay, had he lived to taste it. His mother, Simona, had sent off a package of his favorite Mexican candy to her son. And his favorite teacher, Janis Toman, was assembling a package of granola bars and cookies when she got word Monday that Garibay, age 21 and less than three years out of high school, had been killed in Iraq.
In his mother’s Costa Mesa, Calif., home, candles now burn before a photograph of “Angel,” as she called him, in his Marine dress uniform. He was a baby when Simona Garibay brought him to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico. Mexican and American flags dot the lawn outside her home.
“Like all mothers, we love all our children, but he was my pride and joy,” his mother said in Spanish. “It was a great honor having a Marine son.” At Newport Harbor High School, Garibay played football but didn’t achieve the glory of a starter’s position. His job was to face off against the starting line in scrimmages. In other words, he took the hits to improve the team. He liked the rituals of the football team: short haircuts, jacket and tie on game day, team dinners, assistant coach Mike Bargas said. “He enjoyed being a part of the program. It was just a natural progression for him to go into the military. He knew his role. “He didn’t complain, he didn’t have a mean bone in his body.” Garibay wrote his mother from overseas about the hardships of rain and sandstorms. And he asked for CDs of the Mexican ranchera folk music he loved and missed. “But (he wrote) that he was fine, and not to worry about him,” his mother added. “He had a niece and asked me to watch her carefully and take good care of her. And (wrote) that God would take care of him.” To his teacher, he wrote of a much-appreciated meal served as a special treat: steak, potatoes, ice cream and Pepsi. “You may not realize how much that meant to us,” he wrote in a letter to Toman she received Monday. He planned to become a citizen of the country whose uniform he wore. And he hoped to wear another uniform after his military service was finished: that of a police officer. “He had a definite plan in life,” Bargas said. “The military was there for him, and he was there for them too.”

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