Gregory Medina said his son, Brian Medina, wrote of a foreboding in his letters home from Iraq.
“He was scared. He said in the back of his mind he didn’t think he was going to make it home,” Gregory Medina, 44, said Sunday.
Lance Cpl. Brian A. Medina was killed in enemy action Friday in Fallujah, the Pentagon said in a brief news release late Saturday. Lance Cpl. David M. Branning, 21, of Cockeysville, Md., also was killed Friday, the Associated Press reported.
Both were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe. They were the 10th and 11th members of the unit killed in Iraq since it arrived there last month.
An all-out assault on Fallujah began last Monday as U.S.-led forces sought to hunt down insurgents while the country prepares for crucial elections due by Jan. 31, the AP reported.
Gregory Medina said the Marines in his son’s unit in Iraq were committed to the war. The Marines, Brian Medina told his father in regular phone calls and e-mails, see a side of the war not reported by American media, Gregory Medina said.
It was Brian Medina’s conviction that terrorist camps existed in Iraq prior to the war, Gregory Medina said.
“He said he was sitting in a former terrorist camp writing me a letter,” said Gregory Medina, a retired Navy Seabee.
Brian Medina’s last phone call home was Nov. 3, Gregory Medina said.
“He said they belong there. There’s nobody there who wants to go home,” Gregory Medina said. “He called home as much as he could.”
Brian Medina’s grandfather served in the U.S. Army. His uncle, Cecil Medina, is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
“The only branch we don’t have covered is the Coast Guard,” Gregory Medina said. “We have over 80 years of combined military service,” said Cecil Medina in his brother’s family room in Dale City on Sunday.
Brian Medina, a 2002 Gar-Field High School graduate, told his uncle he thought troops should remain, “until everything was resolved in Iraq.”
“He told me we shouldn’t leave. It would be a slap in the face to those who had died.” Cecil Medina said.
Nine other Marines from Brian Medina’s unit were killed in an ambush during the early stages of the attack on Fallujah, Gregory Medina said. He has an Iraqi flag signed by all of the Marines in his son’s unit. Brian Medina sent it home before the attack on Fallujah, the riverside city of about 300,000 that has proved a security problem for the Americans since they captured Baghdad in April 2003.
Fallujah has been controlled by militants believed responsible for numerous car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, the AP reported.
Gregory Medina keeps the flag in his lap to remember all of the Marines.
“My family still supports the Marines of Bravo Company and we’re praying for them,” he said.
The military on Sunday said at least 38 Americans and six Iraqi soldiers have been killed during the Fallujah assault. Earlier, U.S. commanders said more than 1,200 insurgents have been killed since the siege began, the AP reported.
Gregory Medina said his son and the other Marines of the III Expeditionary Force believed they would return home after the battle in Fallujah.
“He said, ‘As soon as Fallujah falls, we can come home.’ That was pretty much the take,” Gregory Medina said. In Iraq on Sunday, the U.S. military’s ground and air assault of Fallujah has gone quicker than expected, with the entire city occupied after six days of fighting, said Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, who planned the operation, in an AP report.
Brian Medina wanted to be a U.S. Embassy bodyguard and saw service in the U.S. Marines as an avenue toward that goal, his father said. Gregory Medina said his son will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The family is awaiting the arrival of his remains at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Gregory Medina said. Arrangements have yet to be made, but Gregory Medina will accept calls from his son’s high school friends at (703) 878-2769.
Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063