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Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

3/4 Marines mourn the loss of a brother

30 Apr 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

The crowded room maintained a somber silence as the mourning Marines gazed upon the memorial erected for their fallen brother, Lance Cpl. Juan C. Venegas. Venegas, a 21-year-old scout sniper with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, died April 7, in a vehicle accident outside of Fallujah, Iraq. Two days after the fatal accident, Marines with the battalion crowded into Camp Mercury’s mess hall to pay their final respects to their fallen brother-in-arms. During the ceremony, those who knew him described his personality, work ethic and professionalism in life. As a Marine, the Simi Valley, Calif., native was seen as dependable, motivated and self-sufficient. “He didn’t require a lot of guidance or supervision,” said 1st Lt. Stowell B. Holcomb, 26-year-old scout sniper platoon commander, “He did his job with a good attitude that was infectious.”The Marines in his team had the deepest respect for Venegas, who they referred to as a “gentle giant.”“He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, you better pay attention,” said Lance Cpl. Joseph A. Navalle, the 26-year-old team leader for the team. Although very influential as a Marine, Venegas had a greater impact on those around him as a person. His peers remember Venegas as selfless family man, who spent his off hours writing his family or helping his fellow Marine, according to Lance Cpl. Matthew T. Koerber, a 23-year-old scout sniper in Venegas’ platoon “He was the kind of guy who put everyone before himself, without even thinking about it,” Koerber said. “He led by example without even trying.”His fellow snipers also saw Venegas as a fighter. No matter how tough the situation, the Marines of his team could count on him to fight to the very end, according to Navalle.“Even with his last act as a Marine, he was fighting,” said Lance Cpl. Graham W. Golden, a 23-year-old scout sniper with the team. “He’s my hero, he saved my life,” Golden said.“He embodied what it is to be the Marine who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Koerber said, “The Corps was lucky to have him.”Venegas leaves behind four younger sisters and a fiancé. His awards include: the Combat Action Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and Certificate of Commendation.