AURORA, IL, USA
LCPL, H&S CO, 2D BN, 7TH MAR, 1ST MAR DIV, TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA
AL TAQQADUM, IRAQ 04/16/2007
For the third time in just two years East Aurora High School is grieving the loss of a local marine.
Lance Corporal Jesse De La Torre was killed in Iraq Monday. As CBS 2 West Suburban Bureau Chief Mike Puccinelli reports, the community is again shaken with grief.
“They just don’t come any better,” said Lt. Commander Paul McNabb about De La Torre. The 29-year-old died fighting in Al Anbar Province. He is the third East Aurora High graduate to have lost his life in Iraq. Hector Ramos was killed in 2005. Edwardo Lopez was killed last year.
“It’s hard on us. We knew all three young men very well. They were all good students. Everybody is going to take it very personal,” McNabb said.
De La Torres’ death is especially personal for Commander McNabb because he trained him nine years ago as part of the school’s Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
McNabb started his day Wednesday by turning to his paper to check out election coverage. But then he came across a picture of De La Torre that stopped him in his tracks.
“I would just like to say to the family our prayers and our support go to them and they can be very proud of the young man that they raised,” McNabb said, talking about De La Torre’s family.
De La Torre’s visitation drew hundreds of family members, friends, former teachers and decorated Marines. The 29-year-old was a member of the 2nd Battalion out of Twentynine Palms, Calif.
He was the classmate whom friends could always count on to provide a wide smile. A kid whose saxophone blared magic.
“He was a very passionate young man,” said Steve Ode, a friend and bandmate of De La Torre in the late 1990s at East High. “He was very upbeat, always positive and really well-liked in band. He could play the heck out of that saxophone.”
His open casket draped with the American Flag and guarded by two Marines, De La Torre was remembered as a caring person through all phases of his life. Friends recall him carrying a Bible in the East High hallways.
Friends and relatives, weeping quietly, said that even as a young boy, unsure where God might one day lead him, De La Torre always wore a smile.
“We had a very good relationship,” said Gerald Lubshina, De La Torre’s American history teacher at East High. “Not only was he a very good student in class, but he would often stop by to discuss many different things.”
“He had goals and desires, and was a leader with lots of friends,” said Wendi Goins, De La Torre’s home economics teacher at Waldo Middle School.
The verse on the back of his remembrance holy card continued:
It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone.
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.