Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Julian Aviles

Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Julian Aviles

Died April 07, 2003 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom

18, of Palm Beach, Fla.; assigned to 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Tampa, Fla.; killed in action in central Iraq.

At Robinson High School in Tampa, Andrew Aviles’ ROTC instructor placed an empty chair that will always sit front and center in his classroom. The inscription he chose to honor Aviles, 18, who was an academic whiz and popular senior class president when he graduated a year ago: “This seat belongs to Lance Corporal Marine Andy Aviles. He gave all. Those who did less cannot sit here.” Aviles was killed in Iraq April 7 as Marines battled to secure a bridge, enemy artillery took out the amphibious assault vehicle he was riding in. Aviles gave up a full academic scholarship to Florida State University to sign on as a Marine reservist. He wanted to pursue a degree in business but felt an obligation to serve his country first. “Andy did what he thought was the right thing to do. He wanted to serve his country. That was what he believed in,” said John Aviles, an uncle. The family said in a statement: “He brought joy to all who knew him. He’s now at God’s side, watching over us.” Aviles was a stellar student but hardly a good-grade drone. He liked silly movies, cruising the nightlife scene and fast-food hamburgers before football games. He wrote home about admiring his platoon commander, and hating the blinding sandstorms in the Iraqi desert “Plenty of beach, but no water,” wrote Aviles, ever the Florida boy.

USA Today and The Associated Press

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