CAMP AL QAIM, Iraq -- Twenty-one-year-old Lance Cpl. Elias Torrez III, a radio operator, was driving back to base when his convoy was ambushed in the city of Sa'dah.
Torrez had one hand on the steering wheel and his foot on the door to hold it open while he shot at the enemy. He unloaded two magazines before being killed April 9.
The San Angelo, Texas Marine, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division just dropped off a squad of Marines in a nearby town and was on his way back to Al Qaim when rocket-propelled grenades and heavy small arms fire struck his convoy.
A crowd of more than 400 Marines and sailors gathered for a memorial service held April 13, to honor Torrez's memory and pay their last respects to the fallen warrior.
"He was glued to the driver seat and kept the vehicle moving," Staff Sgt. Brian D. Laucht, 30, an artillery operations chief with Company K from Oceanside, Calif. "He had the door open with one foot and was blazing away at the enemy."
Cpl. Noe Tellez , assigned to 3rd Battalion's Communications Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, described Torrez as a fearless and ambitious Marine who was never afraid of anything
"He stuck with us all the way through the first war and now this one. He wasn't scared to get out there and help us out," the 22 year-old San Antonio-born Marine said.
Tellez and Torrez, roommates, always traveled home on leave and whenever possible. They lived a few hours away from each other.
Cpl. Jonathan L. Garza, a field wireman and Torrez's best friend, said they became good friends during Operation Iraq Freedom last year and since became inseparable.
"We fought together," 21-year-old Garza said. "We were the G and T connection, 'two compadres.' He was my son's godfather."
Torrez was born January 28, 1983 and joined the Marine Corps on Sept. 9, 2001.
He completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. He joined 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in February 2002.
Torrez served with Weapons Company during last year's campaign in Iraq as a gunner and a combat vehicle driver in addition to his duties as a radioman. A year later he deployed again.
Garza said Torrez loved playing card games and video games. He also played football and collected football jerseys.
Torrez's desire was to become an infantryman and then a recruiter. His lifelong goal was to stay in the Marine Corps until retirement.
"All he wanted to do was be a grunt," Garza said. "He loved what he was doing... and being around the group of guys he was attached to."
According to Laucht, Torrez was a smiling person who had many friends. He spent hours writing letters home and never seemed to worry about anything.
"He was like a brother to me," said Lance Cpl. Raul Gonzalez Jr., from Monroeville, Ala. and a mortarman with 3rd Battalion. "He took me under his wing and taught me knowledge.
"He was definitely a mentor and I want to be like him in a lot of his ways," 18-year-old Gonzalez added.
"His death crushed a lot of people," Laucht said, "He was a likeable person who had a lot of friends."
Torrez is survived by his parents and two brothers.