Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Yadir G Reynoso

Wapato, Washington

August 5, 2004

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
27 Marine Sgt

Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force

Camp Pendleton, California

Died due to enemy action in An Najaf Province, Iraq.

For Some memorial Service Snapshots, Click photo below:

Yadir G Reynoso

August 14, 2004

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to Yadir G. Reynoso, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy as 3d Squad Leader, 81 millimeter Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, Eleventh Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 5 August 2004. Ordered to clear a 200-meter section of An Najaf cemetery, Sergeant Reynoso's squad engaged a reinforced platoon-sized enemy unit at ranges of 10 to 30 meters and was immediately pinned down by a heavy volume of rocket-propelled grenade and AK-47 fire. Sergeant Reynoso responded by throwing a fragmentation grenade that eliminated three insurgents. He then directed the fires of an AT-4 rocket team on a pocket of four insurgents, destroying their position and all personnel. While providing suppressive fire against the enemy to enable his squad to withdraw from its position and maneuver against the enemy, Sergeant Reynoso was mortally wounded. Sergeant Reynoso's bold leadership, wise judgment, and unyielding dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Home Town: Wapato, Washington
Personal Awards: Silver Star (War on Terrorism), Purple Heart
A one-time high school wrestler whose body was lean and heavily tattooed, Yadir G. Reynoso was anything but dangerous. He would take money out of his pocket to pay the grocery bills of a stranger at the checkout counter. Reynoso, 27, of Wapato, Wash., died Aug. 5 in a firefight with Iraqi insurgents in Najaf. He was based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. "He was the kind of person who loved challenges," said his sister Patty. "My brother always knew the strength he needed to do anything. He knew he would serve honorably no matter what he did." Reynoso was an eight-year veteran of the Marine Corps, which he joined shortly after graduating from high school in 1997. At school, he was active in sports, especially the wrestling team. "When he came home after he graduated from boot camp, my mother remembers when he looked in a mirror at himself in his uniform and said, 'I used to be a boy; now I can confirm I've become a man,'" Patty Reynoso said. Among his survivors is a 4-year-old son.

Associated Press
The Seattle Times, August 12, 2004)

A small town grieves over one family's loss in Iraq

By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter

WAPATO, Yakima County One week ago, Gloria Reynoso awoke to an uneasy feeling that she could not shake. Somewhere, something was not right.

That evening, three Marines in full uniform knocked on her door, asking to speak with her and her husband, who works the late shift at a local processing plant.

"I didn't have to wait for them to speak. My heart already felt something, as a mother," she said yesterday.

The Reynosos' oldest son 27-year-old Marine Sgt. Yadir Reynoso had been killed, shot in the face during the fighting in Najaf, Iraq. He is the 23rd service member from Washington to die in the war, many of whom came from small towns such as Arlington, Concrete, Sedro-Woolley and Prosser, where patriotism is often strong and job opportunities scarce.

Wapato, a town of some 4,600 people, is more than 77 percent Mexican American. The grieving here is born of pride in the community and its heritage. Street-front signs mourning the Reynosos' loss are posted at a bakery, a construction company and market. Tomorrow, mourners will file into the local high-school gym to pay their respects to his flag-draped coffin before an evening memorial service. His burial is scheduled for Saturday.

Many of Wapato's residents were drawn to the area for its farm jobs. Gloria and Jose Reynoso, Mexican nationals, arrived in 1982 from Stockton, Calif.

More than two decades of toiling in asparagus fields, fruit orchards, packing warehouses and processing plants have brought them a modest piece of the American dream. They own their own home, a wood-frame house bought in 1986 for less than $9,000 and painstakingly fixed up over the years. And their four children all born in the U.S. made it through high school and found lives beyond the fields.

For motivation, Jose Reynoso took Yadir, then 6, into the asparagus fields along with his younger sister Patty to work.

"He wanted us to experience what his life was like, so we would go to school," recalls Patty Reynoso, now an accounts representative at Yakima Valley Radiology.

The last week has been awash in condolences, including a phone call yesterday from the Seattle-based Mexican consul, Jorge Madrazo-Cuellar.

They also negotiated with the aid of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to join the Marine escort that accompanied their son's body across the mountains from Seattle to Wapato.

Their son, they say, was a lean, handsome man and a father of five. Just recently Reynoso, who was divorced from his wife, Lisa, spoke of getting out of the Marines to spend more time with his family.

Yesterday, the family opened their home to reporters from The Seattle Times and the Yakima Herald-Republic.

On the chain-link fence outside their home hang four red-white-and-blue American pennants, and another four are tacked to the front porch, along with a black ribbon with Yadir's picture over the door.

Inside, pictures of the Virgin Mary and religious scrolls are outnumbered by pictures in a new shrine to honor their lost son. A picture of the 130-pound Yadir as a youthful high-school wrestler is positioned across from a sober-faced Yadir in Marine uniform.

The family recalled Yadir as a gentle, kind man who would take money out of his pocket to pay the grocery bills of a stranger at the checkout counter.

He loved coming home to Wapato, as well as taking fellow Marines on south-of-the-border visits to Tijuana, where his grandmother lives. Though his body was amply covered with tattoos, he promised his grandmother that he would save a special place over his heart for a tattoo to honor her. He sent her flowers just before he was sent to Iraq in May, his family recalls.

As a boy, helping his father work on the house, Yadir Reynoso once spoke of being an electrician. But his dreams changed.

Jose Reynoso, his voice breaking with emotion, recalled how his son came home from high school one day to pore through a Marine recruiting brochure.

"He said, 'Is it OK if I join them Marines?' I responded that it was his decision. If that's what he wanted to do, I would support that decision. If that was the career he wanted," Jose Reynoso said in an interview translated by his daughter, Patty.

His son enlisted in 1997. Later, a proud Yadir came home from boot camp in uniform. "He said, 'I know that I am a man now I am respected the way I always felt I wanted to be respected,' " his mother said. Yadir Reynoso was part of a wave of Latino enlistment that has favored the Marines, which prepare troops for some of the toughest U.S. combat missions. Within the ranks of the Marines, Latinos have suffered more than 18 percent of the war dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Department of Defense analysis from late July. That is higher than the 11.5 percent casualty rates of Latinos in all branches of service in the two wars. In the U.S., Latinos account for about 14 percent of the population.

Reynoso ended up with the Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The family said he got an early taste of the carnage of war when he was asked to help retrieve the bodies of U.S. sailors killed when the USS Cole was attacked by terrorists in Aden, Yemen, in 2000.

Reynoso was deeply disturbed by what he saw, and he told his family he didn't want to die that way. His family now struggles to come to terms with his combat death.

Patty Reynoso recalls how she came to visit her parents last Thursday and was full of anger and grief upon learning of her brother's death.

"My mother said, 'This is what God wanted.' I said no. I had spoken to Yadir earlier [this month]. He said he was going to come home."
From The Yakima Herald yakimaherald.com  :

Marine Killed in Iraq

He loved the Marine Corps so much he had their motto "Semper Fi," for Always Faithful tattooed across his chest.

He loved his wife so much that he wouldn't have given up the chance to meet her even if he knew it would set him on a path with death in Iraq, his stepfather said.

Sgt. Jason Cook, 25, becomes the fourth Marine with ties to the Yakima Valley to die in Iraq.

He was killed in action Saturday in Al Anbar province, but the Marines were not releasing further information, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

"He had a tremendous love of life and I believe he died doing what he needed to and doing what he thought was right defending our country," 
said an aunt, Carol Carlquist of Zillah.

Cook's mother and stepfather, Cheryl and Del Miles, live in Yakima, and other relatives live in the area.

Family members and Cook's wife gathered at his parent's home Tuesday night, recalling a competitive yet caring young man who joined the Marines because he believed in their mission and sense of family.

"There just wasn't anything Jason wouldn't do for you. He was right there for you," Del Miles said.

He enlisted at age 19 after graduating from Okanogan High School in 1997, although he received most of his education at schools in the Seattle area.

He and his wife, Yovana, 25, spent only eight months of their two-year marriage together because of his military service, including two tours in Iraq.

"I feel like we didn't have enough time to enjoy ourselves together," 
Yovana Cook said.

"He was always taking care of me."

The couple met at a party while he was assigned to guard the U.S. 
Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. After the married, they were living at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where Cook was based.

He was an anti-tank missileman assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

As the officer in charge of his squad's armored vehicle, he named it after his wife, relatives said.

He always sounded upbeat and strong in his phone calls, including the last one to his wife a week before he died.

Yovana Cook said they talked about celebrating his birthday on Oct. 11.

She planned to rent a Jet-Ski for them to ride on the first day he came back at the end of September.

In his last letter to her in late July, he expressed his love and asked for more packages of tuna. He had come to rely on the meat to replace meals during busy times.

Like other military families faced with the loss of a serviceman, they never really considered the prospect that he might not return alive.

When the motorcade for Marine Sgt. Yadir Reynoso's funeral passed his parents' home on 16th Avenue earlier this month, Del Miles said he questioned what right he had to consider himself exempt from the tragedy endured by the Wapato man's family.

"I always knew we weren't, but I selfishly hoped we would be," said another aunt, Cindy Austin of Everett.

Her son, recruited by Cook to join the Marines, is out after serving almost a year in Iraq. Carlquist's son, another Marine, is assigned to an anti-drug unit in Arizona.

Cook was up for a third tour in Iraq, but he was hoping a promotion would allow him to choose assignment to an embassy post in South America a gentler job where he could settle down and start a family.

He had also talked about leaving the Marines to work for the U.S. 
Marshals or Border Patrol.

Yovana Cook said she's not ready to face the thought of a future without the cute, flirtatious guy who had promised to tell her everything about the war experience once he came back.

However, "I'm going to make it because that's what he wanted me to do."

"He was the best for me," she said.

It's unclear when Cook's body will arrive in Yakima, but relatives have discussed a tentative public service at the First Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon.

They plan to ask Sen. Patty Murray to help them with another hurdle: 
arranging a temporary visa for Yovana Cook's mother so she can attend the service from Colombia.

Those attempts so far have hit a series of roadblocks, but they're hopeful that Murray can clear the way.

Besides 27-year-old Reynoso, the local Marines killed this summer in Iraq were Lance Cpl. Dustin Sides, 22, of Yakima and Staff Sgt. Marvin Best, 33, of Prosser.

From The Seattle Times seattletimes.com 09/18/04 :

Courage amid chaos: How one Iraq battle unfolded

The information in this story is largely based on an after-action report filed by 1st Lt. Lamar Breshears. Such reports are filed after military operations. This story also includes information from letters written to Sgt. Yadir Reynoso's family by Marines in his platoon. Interviews with Breshears' father, Larry, and John Pike, a military analyst with GlobalSecurity.org, offered additional background information.

By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter
The two Marines came to Iraq from different sides of the Cascades and from very different backgrounds. 1st Lt. Lamar Breshears grew up in a middle-class Renton home; Sgt. Yadir Reynoso was the son of Mexican farmworkers in the Yakima Valley town of Wapato.
But in Iraq, the two members of the 81-mm mortar platoon of the 4th Marine Regiment formed a bond, swapping stories about their favorite places back home in the Northwest.

And, on the tail end of the blistering-hot day of Aug. 5, the two men's platoon of more than 50 was in the turbulent city of Najaf, moving inside the maze of thick-walled mausoleums, gravestones, catacombs and narrow alleys that make up the largest and holiest of Shiite Muslim burial grounds. Shortly after entering the vast cemetery, they would encounter a platoon-size group of insurgents.

Breshears, commander of the mortar platoon, would lead the men through a harrowing firefight that ranked among the most intense of the Iraq war. And Reynoso would die in a last-ditch attempt to aid fellow Marines in a retreat from heavy fire.

A Marines after-action report obtained by The Seattle Times paints a vivid portrait of a firefight that helped touch off weeks of combat between U.S. forces and militia loyal to Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The report also underscores the sometimes hellish and politically complicated nature of combat in Iraq.

On this day in Najaf, Marines sometimes found themselves in firefights with enemies no more than 30 feet away. The battle lasted into the night, with pinned-down squads lacking enough radios to communicate with one another. Due to the sensitivity of fighting in the middle of one of the Muslim world's most revered places, the Marines were dismayed to find they couldn't call in heavy artillery as the fighting grew fiercer.

Amid the presidential campaign rhetoric about whether the war in Iraq is wrong, the after-action report offers a glimpse of the courage of those who continue to fight and die in that war.

Two different childhoods

The son of an insurance man and the son of a farmworker both pick the Marines
Breshears grew up in a subdivision in Renton, where he excelled at cross-country running and would later embrace surfing.

He was the son of an insurance agent, Larry Breshears, who served seven years in the Army. Lamar accepted a Marine Corps scholarship that paid his way through the University of Washington, where he majored in society and justice.

After graduating in 2001, Breshears entered the Marines as a commissioned officer. He bucks some time-honored traditions: He doesn't smoke or drink. And when he's home, "the last thing that he wants to talk about is the military," his father said.

But Lamar Breshears, at 25, is a combat veteran, having served in Iraq during the 2003 U.S. invasion. He returned to Iraq last spring as commander of the 81-mm platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. The unit specializes in firing mortars at longer-range targets, but every Marine is a rifleman capable of close-in combat.

Reynoso, 27, was a late addition to the unit, joining the platoon as it left its home base at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for Kuwait.
The rail-thin Reynoso was the eldest of four children whose Mexican parents moved to the small Eastern Washington town of Wapato in 1982. They first worked in the orchards and fields, later in warehouses and processing plants.

His father, Jose Reynoso, recalled how his son came home from high school one day to pore over a Marines recruiting brochure.

"He said, 'Is it OK if I join them Marines?' I responded that it was his decision. I would support that decision, if that was the career he wanted," Jose Reynoso said in an interview translated by his daughter, Patty.

Reynoso, who had four young children of his own, quickly asserted himself as a leader of the platoon. He was a popular guy, a storyteller with a great sense of humor. On many nights, he and fellow platoon members would stay awake listening to selections from his large compact-disc collection.

It was Breshears who made the decision to put Reynoso in charge of a squad, a decision Breshears would later describe "as one of the best moves I have ever made."

Treacherous duty
From boredom in Baghdad to battle in Najaf

The platoon's initial months in Iraq this year were spent at a base in southern Baghdad. The Marines saw little action, and they often were bored.

On Aug. 4, the platoon got an order to head 80 miles south to the Shiite holy city of Najaf. Well-armed rebel fighters were positioned in the cemetery and inside the compound of the gold-domed Imam Ali shrine.

A fragile truce reached in the spring had started to fray.
At 7:30 a.m. Aug. 5, after two hours of sleep, the platoon was called to assist Iraqi police in fending off insurgent attacks.

Throughout the day, the platoon fought sporadically with the militia. One platoon member was wounded in the abdomen, leg and groin.

A helicopter sent to aid in the fight crashed just north of the police station, and the platoon moved to secure that site.

At 6 p.m., after receiving intense fire from the cemetery, the platoon went in to try to secure part of the burial ground.

This was treacherous duty. The walls of the tombs made it impossible to see clearly for any distance. Even if Marines swept through an area, there was always the danger that an insurgent would pop up from an underground catacomb and attack from behind.

The trouble started less than 200 feet into the vast cemetery, when the mortar platoon had a surprise encounter with advancing insurgents. The Marines divided into a 1st Section and 2nd Section fought for about 45 minutes in close quarters, using small arms, grenades, shoulder-fired rockets and machine guns. During most of the fighting, the enemy was no more than 30 to 100 feet away.

Then Breshears got a radio order to fall back. He quickly conveyed the message to the 2nd Section Marines. But the 1st Section, with Reynoso, had no radio to receive the order. And it had split off and headed to a different part of the cemetery.

Breshears, concerned about the fate of 1st Section, sought to call in artillery fire.

"But the mission was denied because it was politically insensitive to fire into the cemetery," Breshears wrote in the after-action report. This put "the entire 1st Section in danger of being overrun by a numerically superior enemy."

Breshears struck out alone to try to reach the 1st Section, which contained about 25 troops. It was a slow journey, as he was constantly having to take cover from enemy fire.

Finally, he was able to hook up with a corporal from the 1st Section and relay the order.

A final act

Reynoso fires on the enemy so his men can withdraw
Reynoso and the others in the 1st Section faced a perilous predicament. As the other units fell back, these Marines were exposed on three sides to rocket-propelled grenades and other hostile fire.

In his final moments, Reynoso led his men in battle. He threw a grenade that killed three enemy fighters, according to the report. He instructed another Marine to launch a shoulder-fired rocket that killed four more insurgents.

Those actions drew more intense fire from the enemy.

Reynoso, hoping to give his squad a chance to withdraw, made a dangerous decision. He would start firing with his own rifle in hopes of pinning down the enemy long enough to give his men cover for an escape.

But that act exposed him to the enemy. He was hit twice: once in the neck, once in the face.

From about 50 feet away, Navy medic Joshua Bunker watched Reynoso fall. In the face of intense enemy fire, Bunker stood up and ran from tomb to tomb to reach Reynoso's side. He discovered that Reynoso was dead.

The 1st Section Marines moved in to retrieve Reynoso's body. Somehow, they managed to reassemble around his body, forming a circle and firing in all directions. Under cover of darkness, they fought their way back to a road outside the cemetery, rejoining the 2nd Section of the platoon to pass an uneasy night.

The fighting was far from over.

At 4:30 a.m. Aug. 6, the platoon was targeted by mortar fire that fell within 50 feet of its position. As another day and another night wore on, the platoon moved back into the cemetery, spreading out in a position known as a picket line.

The platoon took more mortars and other fire. Another Marine died. Another was evacuated due to shell shock. Another suffered shrapnel wounds. Another had a slipped disk, and another had heat exhaustion.

At 7 a.m. Aug 7, the Marines withdrew from the cemetery.


The platoon spent most of the remaining days of August firing mortar on enemy positions. It was dangerous work because if it stayed too long in any one spot, it risked attracting enemy fire.

Platoon life quieted down in late August, when the insurgents, after negotiations with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq, agreed to withdraw from the cemetery and the shrine.

Reynoso's body was taken back to Wapato, where the flag-draped casket lay in state at the high-school gymnasium before burial. The City Council recently passed a motion proclaiming Aug. 5 Sgt. Yadir Reynoso day. "He fought like a true warrior and always will have a place in my heart," Breshears wrote in a letter to the Reynoso family.

Reynoso is under consideration for a Silver Star for gallantry in action, Breshears said in a recent e-mail to his father, Larry.

From The Chicago Tribune chicagotribune.com 07/01/05:

Navy SEAL was on mission to find bin Laden
July 01, 2005|By Shia Kapos, Special to the Tribune
Petty Officer 1st Class Brian J. Ouellette's helmet is chipped, dented and battered from years of wear during his service in the Navy SEALs.

"When I look at it, I see Brian. It exemplifies what he was. He was a fighter. He never quit," said Ouellette's brother, Michael. "We were just a year apart and we were very competitive. We'd fight and I'd wail him, but he'd just keep going."

It's been more than a year since Brian Ouellette, 37, a Navy SEAL for 15 years, was killed with three other servicemen on May 29, 2004, when the Humvee they were in ran over a land mine in Afghanistan.

Michael Ouellette said his brother's spirit and the work he was dedicated to are always in his thoughts.

Brian Ouellette and his three comrades were part of a mission to search for Osama bin Laden, Ouellette's brother said.

Ouellette was part of a special operations squad that teamed Navy, Army and Green Beret personnel on a mission to find the suspected leader of terrorist attacks.

With Ouellette at the wheel, the foursome had been returning to their camp when their Humvee swerved to avoid a land mine. But they hit another one instead.

Also killed were Army Capt. Daniel Eggers, 28, of Cape Coral, Fla.; Staff Sgt. Robert Mogensen, 26, of Leesville, La.; and Pfc. Joseph Jeffries, 21, of Beaverton, Ore.

Ouellette was the third of eight children from Waltham, Mass. He played linebacker on his school's football team.

At age 23, Ouellette enlisted and he served on missions in South America and Bosnia before he landed in Afghanistan. During a break from one of those tours, he told his family he was weighing whether to stay in the military or work in Washington, D.C., in the private sector.

"He could have gone for big money and gotten out, but instead he took the big job and stayed in the SEALs," his brother said. "It's humbling."

Soldier loved challenges: Sgt. Yadir G. Reynoso also was a veteran soldier, dedicating eight years of service to the Marines.

"He was the kind of person who loved challenges," his sister, Patty Reynoso, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Yadir Reynoso, 27, of Wapato, Wash., was killed by small-arms fire during fierce fighting with Iraqi insurgents in Najaf, Iraq, on Aug. 5.

He was a mortar man and part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

The father of a 4-year-old, Reynoso was as dedicated to his family as he was to his work.

He was known to call home often to speak to his mother and other family members while he was stationed overseas.

Reynoso grew up with a love of sports and wrestled for Wapato High School, where he graduated in 1997.

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