GRASS VALLEY, CA, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, F CO, 2D BN, 1ST MAR, 1ST MAR DIV, CAMP PENDLETON, CA AL QA’IM, IRAQ 11/16/2005
Nevada County residents rallied Wednesday to prepare final tributes to fallen U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal John A. Lucente, described by his father as a young man eager to face challenges.
Members of Lake of the Pines’ Men’s Golf Club are raising money to help send Lucente’s three siblings to services at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., where the 19-year-old 2004 Bear River High School graduate will be buried.
Lucente died with three other Marines on November 16, 2005, in Ubaydi, Iraq after being hit by an enemy hand grenade. He is the second person with Nevada County ties to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom since the war began in February 2003.
The gated community’s men’s club is also working on a college fund to benefit John Lucente’s infant brother, Jake. A separate memorial fund in John Lucente’s name has also been established at El Dorado Savings Bank’s Nevada County locations.
Larry Couture, president of the Men’s Golf Club, said his neighbors have been anxious to help one of their own.
“I would expect nothing less from Lake of the Pines, really,” he said. “I think the community is rising to the occasion.”
Those rallying include Friends of Nevada County Military co-founder Gina Gippner, who stitched a quilt to be given to John Lucente’s father, Tony. The quilt, of a Marine angel, was at the Rood Administrative Center Wednesday. Gippner already finished one quilt for Lucente’s LOP relatives last week.
John Lucente’s father, Tony, said he was still too upset to talk much about his son. Tony Lucente, who lives in Fresno, said his son spent summers and holidays in the central San Joaquin Valley after moving to Lake of the Pines with John’s mother, Kristine, before high school.
“J.T. was a spitfire,” said Naomi Lucente, John’s stepmother. He’d often jump into a fracas with friends at school, trying to defend them. “In a good sense, he tried to be the center of attention,” said Naomi Lucente, who has known her stepson for a decade.
John Lucente’s father and mother split when he was an infant, his father said. Naomi Lucente said John Lucente grew up idolizing his father, spending summers lifting weights with Tony Lucente, a former bodybuilder who owns a hair salon in Fresno.
“J.T. loved going to work with his dad, for obvious reasons,” Naomi Lucente said. “He liked the attention the girls in the salon gave him. When he was here, he didn’t have to rough it at all.”
Tony Lucente last saw his son in April, when the two went to a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. John Lucente, his stepmother said, was adamant about joining the military.
“He was very proud to serve his country. He wanted to belong to something for so long,” she said.