Duarte Marine granted posthumous U.S.
Sunday, April 6, 2003
©2003 Associated Press
(04-06) 19:18 PST DUARTE, Calif. (AP) --
A Mexico-born 21-year-old Marine who died in Iraq will be buried as an
American after he was posthumously granted U.S. citizenship on Sunday.
A Marine color guard presented the parents of Pfc. Francisco A. Martinez
Flores with a framed certificate of naturalization for their son, who was
assigned to the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division from the Marine
Corps Air-Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. About 100 friends
and family attended the ceremony at their Duarte home, northeast of Los
"He was a hero," said Martinez's young brother, Sammy.
Martinez's mother, Martha, said her son had always wanted to become a
U.S. citizen. He was two weeks away from being naturalized when he died in
Iraq March 25 when the tank he was in traveled over a collapsing bridge and
tumbled into the Euphrates River.
Also killed that day was 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Patrick T. O'Day
of Santa Rosa.
Martinez was listed as missing, but his family was told two days later
his body had been found.
Martinez joined two other fallen Marines from Southern California who
received posthumous citizenship. Cpl. Jose Angel Garibay and Lance Cpl. Jose
Gutierrez, both killed in combat in Iraq, were granted certificates of
naturalization April 2 in Laguna Niguel. All three men were single.
Philippines-born Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa, 33, of Tracy, was
posthumously granted citizenship on April 4, more than a week after he was
killed in combat. The Camp Pendleton Marine, and permanent resident who
emigrated to the United States when he was 10, left behind a wife.
Citizenship carries no extra financial benefits for a military man's
Garibay, 21, of Costa Mesa, died March 23 in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad.
He was a native of Jalisco, Mexico, whose family moved to the United States
when he was a baby.
Gutierrez, 22, of Lomita, died March 21 at the port city of Umm Qasr,
becoming one of the first casualties of war. When he was 14, Gutierrez
crossed into California from his home in Guatemala.
There are about 31,000 foreign nationals serving in the American
military. President Bush signed an executive order last year making it
easier for survivors to apply for citizenship for fallen soldiers.
Martinez's family moved to California from Guadalajara when he was 3. The
eldest of four, he joined the Marines to pursue his goal of going to college
to become a stock broker or detective.
His family said they plan to bury Martinez on Saturday.
©2003 Associated Press