LAS VEGAS, NV, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, BULK FUEL CO, (CSSG-15, 1ST FSSG), 6TH MT BN, 4TH FSSG, LAS VEGAS, NV CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, IRAQ 02/11/2005
Richard Perez Jr., known as “Pookie” by his family, wanted to save up enough money to help his parents buy their first house when he returned from Iraq.
“He moved around a lot when he was a kid,” said Lance Cpl. John R. Holiday. “His parents had always rented their whole life and he wanted to help them own a place.”
He had just 10 days left in Iraq and had already had shipped his personal belongings back home. He hoped to play baseball for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, after he returned. He told me, ‘My mission is complete. I’m just training the guys to take over here.’ Richard Perez Sr., father
“He said, ‘Dad, if I do not come back, I want you to tell everyone I’m doing what I want to do,”‘ Perez’s father explained.
The younger Perez enlisted in the Marine reserves shortly after his 2003 graduation from Coronado High School in Henderson.
Coronado Principal Monte Bay had to compose himself several times at the podium as he remembered Perez for his infectious smile and positive attitude. Perez was extremely proud of becoming a Marine and being the first one from the new school, Bay said.
“He’s a hero to Iraq,” Perez said. “He’s a hero to the USA … We didn’t realize we were raising a hero, but we did.”
His father, a sports journalist, was debating whether to remain in the business of interviewing world-class athletes and attending baseball games and boxing matches. His son often accompanied him to such events.
“It just seemed like everything I’ve done over the years, everything I built up, I did for him,” he said. “Now he’s not here, and it’s like, ‘Do I still build it?'”