News: 1st LAR bids final farewell to fallen Marines
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler Reiriz
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Marines and sailors of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion came together at a memorial ceremony here, July 19, to mourn the loss of two of their own.
The ceremony served as a final farewell to Cpl. Roberto Cazarez, born in Angostura, Mexico, and Lance Cpl. Ramon T. Kaipat, born in the Northern Mariana Islands, who made the ultimate sacrifice during the battalion’s deployment to Khan Neshin, Afghanistan in October of 2011.
Khan Neshin is located in southern Afghanistan, near the border of Pakistan. The battalion’s role was to support and advise Afghan forces in the southernmost position in the Regional Command Southwest area of operations, including Afghan Uniformed Police and Border Police.
Friends and family of the fallen warriors joined the battalion to say goodbye to the Marines they lost.
“Although we had memorial services for both Marines in Afghanistan, it is important that the entire unit come together with the families of those Marines here in Camp Pendleton,” said Lt. Col. George Schreffler, commanding officer of the battalion. “Not only to put some closure on the deployment, but to show those families how their sons, husbands, and brothers were integrated into a unit of Marines and that what they did in Afghanistan mattered.”
Cazarez was remembered as a Marine who was always dedicated to the mission. He made a special effort to talk to the Afghan police and interpreters, building a better working relationship.
His helpful attitude extended to the Marines and sailors he served with in Delta Company.
Cpl. John W. Nelson, an assistant patrol leader serving with Delta Company said when he first checked into the battalion two years ago, Cazarez was one of the first Marines he met. Cazarez brought him up to speed on the skills he would need to serve with 1st LAR Bn.
“He taught me a lot,” he said.
Schreffler said Cazarez was instrumental in the battalion establishing the first independent Afghan Uniformed Police Station and preparing the Afghan police to operate independently.
Both Cazarez and Kaipat were well known as having positive attitudes that couldn’t help but rub off on the Marines around them.
Friends and family of Kaipat spoke of him as having a good sense of humor and being fiercely protective of the Marines and sailors he served with.
This was his second combat tour in Afghanistan. During both tours, Kaipat served as the point man for dismounted patrols, leading the way through dangerous terrain, searching for improvised explosive devices or signs of enemy ambushes.
Several Marines recalled Kaipat exposing himself to enemy fire to provide cover for a Marine who was wounded in a firefight.
“This brings a little bit of closure for the Marines who were closest to them,” said Sgt. Nathan Kidd, an LAV crewman who served with Lance Cpl. Kaipat in Charlie Company. “The Marines who didn’t know them learn a little bit about the Marines they lost from their battalion.”