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Grenade Accident Claims Life of Corona Marine, 19

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

At the time of his death, Marine Pfc. Adam T. Hoage was fulfilling a dream of serving in the military. On the home front, his life seemed to be entering a newer, richer phase.

His older sister had just given birth to his first nephew. And in a letter to his girlfriend, he said he would propose once he returned from the war.

Hoage, 19, of Corona, was killed Saturday in Saudi Arabia when a grenade accidentally went off as his Marine battalion was preparing for the ground offensive in Kuwait. One other person was injured, according to military reports.

Hoage’s parents, Roger and Mellie Hoage of Corona, were told of his death on Saturday. According to a report they received on the incident, their son was killed instantly.

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Since learning of his death, the Hoages have been trying to gather more information. While their son’s death did not come in combat, they said he died honorably and for a just cause.

“I fully support the action of the U.S. troops over there . . . I believe Adam was supposed to be where he was,” his mother said.

On Monday, friends gathered at the Hoage home to offer support to the family. Mellie Hoage said her husband, a retired Hughes Aircraft director, along with many other friends, were too distraught to talk about the tragedy.

Hoage graduated from Norco High School in 1989 and Auburndale Junior High School in 1986. Flags flew at half mast at both schools Monday, as well as the main office of the Corona-Norco Unified School District.

School officials described Hoage as a good student, quiet, friendly and popular. An entry in his ninth-grade yearbook called him the student with the “best smile,” said Judy Horan, the assistant principal at Auburndale.

Hoage and friends often went to the Corona National Golf Course, which had been closed, or to a nearby riverbed to shoot BB guns. He started collecting rifles and handguns when he was in the eighth grade, said A.J. Stoyanowski, 20, a friend who had known Hoage since kindergarten.

Shortly after graduation, Hoage signed up for the Marines. Although he was undecided on the career path he was going to take, his mother said that he had made up his mind to spend a few years in the service.

“It was his decision and he did it,” Mellie Hoage said. “In fact, he told us after he had already signed up.”

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Stoyanowski said that Hoage thought joining the military would be a good move instead of staying in Corona and working odd jobs.

“It just seemed like a good alternative,” he said. “Whoever thinks this can happen?”

On a visit last summer, Hoage told Stoyanowski that he was “having a blast” in the military, but he hoped to be transferred into another job, such as military police.

Hoage’s home base was at the Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, but he had spent much of his time in Okinawa, Japan. In January, he was transferred to Saudi Arabia, where he served with the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Marine Division.

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Like other parents with sons in the Gulf, Mellie Hoage said she and her husband were worried about their son. They spoke to him for the last time on Jan. 20.

“He said he was fine,” she said. “He was very upbeat.”

Earlier this month his sister, Steffanie Moody, 23, of Murrieta, gave birth to a son, but Hoage never got to see him.

Last week, his parents received a letter from Hoage dated Jan. 27.

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“He said all they had been doing was pulling guard duty,” Mellie Hoage said. “But he said they were ready to move.”

His girlfriend, Kristie Angulo, 18, of Corona, also received letters from Hoage.

“He had written her and said that when he came home he was going to ask her to marry him,” Mellie Hoage said.

Mellie Hoage said the family hopes to hold a memorial service for Hoage early next week, when his body is expected to be returned to Corona.

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