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Marine remembered for bravery under fire

13 Apr 2004 | Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

Joshua Ayon, son of Pfc. Eric A. Ayon, turned 7 years old April 11, two days after his father was killed in action in Iraq.

The elder Ayon joined the Marine Corps in June 2003 and was a motor transportation operator with Truck Company, 1st Marine Division. At the time of his death, the Los Angeles Marine was attached to 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment supporting the division's security and stabilization mission here.

Marines from Truck Company attended a remembrance service here April 12 to honor Ayon's contribution to the Corps.

"Pfc. Ayon was a very squared-away Marine," said Pfc. Jesus R. Aguilar, motor transportation operator.  "The very first day we got to the barracks at Camp Pendleton, he put all his stuff in its proper place because he wanted to be ready to go at a moment's notice."

According to Aguilar, the 26-year-old devout Catholic was excited at the prospect of deploying to Iraq with an infantry unit.

Ayon provided transportation support to 2nd Battalion's Quick Reaction Force and to the Marines sweeping many of the main supply routes near Ar Ramadi.

During a convoy April 9, Ayon's seven-ton vehicle came under heavy enemy small-arms fire.

"When his assistant driver became injured and unable to move," explained Capt. Terence M. Connelly, Truck Company's commander, "Pfc. Ayon left the safety of cover to move the Marine out of harm's way."

Soon after rescuing his assistant driver, Ayon heard the vehicle's machine gunner crying for help from the top of the truck. Ayon braved enemy fire again jumping to the turret and pulling the injured Marine to a secure location for treatment.

His selfless actions saved the lives of two Marines, but Ayon did not make it out of the firefight to celebrate.

"He was not only a great Marine, but a great man as well," said Lance Cpl. Chris T. Snyder, a motor transportation operator from Cedartown, Ga.  "He would always go out of his way to help another Marine."

Aguilar agreed with Snyder's remarks and said he was not surprised by Ayon's life-saving performance during the battle.

"It was just like him to do what he did," he said. "I always knew he'd do something great."

Ayon and Aguilar, of Santa Ana, Calif., were planning to meet again after the deployment to share their war stories and to plan their futures in the Marine Corps.

"Ayon wanted to be a drill instructor one day," 18-year-old Aguilar said. "He was always my mentor."

To achieve his dreams, Ayon drew strength from his religion and his family.  Every day, he thanked the Virgin Mary for his high school sweetheart and wife Angelina and their son.

"He held the times he spent with his family as the most precious," Aguilar said. "I know he's up in Heaven now looking down on me so I can return home to watch over his family for him. He'll be missed."