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2 Californians Die in Battle to Quell Fallouja Insurgency

Times Staff Writer

In the months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, seven or eight of Jeramy Ailes’ friends joined the armed forces.

“He sort of followed them,” said his father, Joel Ailes, 43, of Gilroy. “He picked the Marine Corps -- the strongest and the best.”

On Nov. 15, Lance Cpl. Jeramy A. Ailes, 22, a rifleman with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, was killed by small-arms fire during the battle to quell the insurgency in Fallouja.

He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

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Ailes graduated from high school in Gilroy in spring 2001 and enrolled a few months later at Gavilan Community College. His father said the 9/11 attacks stirred the young man and his friends, and on Oct. 7, 2002, Ailes enlisted in the Marine Corps.

He saw little action during an initial tour of duty in Iraq, but he got to know, and become fond of, Iraqi people near Nasiriyah, where he was stationed for five months in the winter and spring of 2003, his father said.

“A family invited him to dinner,” Joel Ailes said. “He told us, ‘I have no idea what it was that we ate, but it was good.’

“His heart went out to those people,” his father added. “He had us send 300 soccer balls to Iraq for the kids.”

In May 2003, Jeramy Ailes returned to Camp Pendleton for additional training, then was sent back to Iraq.

A month ago, he telephoned his family, talking about the upcoming campaign in Fallouja and telling his father that when he got back to California, he planned to go snowboarding.

Several days after that phone call, Ailes went into battle.

His father said that during more than 10 days of hard fighting, his son’s unit apparently contained the insurgents in their sector of Fallouja.

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“They had finished mopping up,” Joel Ailes said. “From what we heard, someone may have jumped up and ambushed them as they were on their way out.”

Jeramy Ailes was among five Marines who were killed.

Joel Ailes said his son’s death was a severe blow to him, his wife, Lana, 42, and the young Marine’s three sisters.

“But we all are very proud of him,” Joel Ailes said.

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