MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
A large broadsword engraved with a Marine’s name sparks curiosity in some Marines of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, who may wonder why it was made.
Ask Lance Cpl. Francisco J. Valles what it symbolizes, and he’ll tell you that it was made for a fierce warrior and loyal friend, Lance Cpl. Christian Vasquez.
“This sword resembles his personality. It’s strong, it’s respectable; it’s deadly” said Valles, a mortarman with Company C, 1st LAR. “He was aggressive when he needed to be and kind the rest of the time- he was my best friend.”
Vasquez was killed during a vicious fire fight in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province Aug. 2, 2007.
“He was a caretaker for all of us,” said Valles, 20, from Los Angeles, and with Vasquez during the fight. “Before every patrol he would tell us that he had our backs. He would say ‘we’re coming back alive today.’”
The sword was made while 1st LAR was still deployed. 1st LAR left it in Iraq as a memorial to Vasquez. Marines of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, returned the sword after leaving the area 1st LAR had occupied.
“I am really happy to see it come home,” Valles said. “Now we have something tangible to help remember him by.”
Vasquez was a professional warrior whose serious attitude sometimes gave way to a more humorous, light-hearted side, explained Cpl. Moses Cardenas, a rifleman with Company C, 1st LAR and fellow squad member of Vasquez.
“I remember one time we had to assemble and break down wheels and tires. It wasn’t fun. He started to joke around and in the end he made it a good day,” said Cardenas, 21, from Fullerton, Calif. “He could always make a bad situation good. He never complained, and that’s what I liked most about him.”
As they prepare for their upcoming deployment, Cardenas’ and Valles’ thoughts are focused on the mission ahead. As they explained, though, memories of their fellow Marine and friend will remain on their minds for the rest of their lives, and having Vasquez’ sword displayed at the battalion will help other Marines.