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Division's headquarters memorializes team leader, family man

1 Jun 2004 | Gunnery Sgt. Mark Oliva

Gunnery Sgt. David M. Beall pulled the aluminum-beaded chain with his identification tags from his neck.  He leaned over to the inverted rifle and hung them next to those of SSgt. Jorge A. MolinaBautista.

It was a final goodbye to a fallen Marine. 

Marines from Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, honored MolinaBautista's life and sacrifice in a memorial service here.  He was killed in action while on a combat patrol, May 23.  MolinaBautista was a member of the 1st Marine Division's Command Post Jump Team.

Before the memorial ceremony was finished June 1, the tags of more than 30 Marines - all members of MolinaBautista's team - hung together from the rifle.

"What we memorialize is not Staff Sergeant Molina's passing, but his full life," said Capt. Edward T. Card, commander of MolinaBautista's team.  "He was our advanced guard.  He was a seasoned and courageous combat veteran.  I realize I cannot begin to understand the depth of sorrow his family is experiencing."

Cpl. Jackie W. Phillips, assigned to MolinaBautista's team recalled the dedicated family man, who spent nights trading stories about his three children.  Phillips said he treated his Marines as his own family.

"There wasn't a day that went by that he and I didn't talk about our families back home," Phillips said.  "He was a very proud father and loved his family deeply.  Staff Sergeant Molina also cared for his Marines.  He always looked out for them, never putting himself first and never putting us in danger."

MolinaBautista was born in Mexico in 1966 and immigrated to the United States with his mother when he was five.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps in February 1991 and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.  He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

It was there he married his wife, Dina, in 1994.

He was later assigned to 1st LAR Battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and served a tour as a recruiter in Los Angeles before returning to 1st LAR Battalion.  He deployed with the division last year for the invasion of Iraq and returned again this year.

Navy Cmdr. Bill D. Devine, chaplain for the 1st Marine Division, spoke to the Marines of MolinaBautista's commitment to his life, his family and his Marines.

"There is no greater love than when someone lays his life down for another," Devine said.  "No one knows the meaning of those words more than those here tonight."

MolinaBautista is survived by his wife Dina, and three children, Jorge, Jose and Carlos.