Marine Lance Cpl. Ryan Mayhan survived his first eight-month deployment to Iraq last year despite fighting in the insurgent stronghold of Fallouja.
But his mother was worried when the Hawthorne man returned there in September for a second tour only weeks after being injured in a bombing. She believed that he was worried too.
“I know my children well,” said Kim Hearn of Rialto. “I heard it in his voice, and to me it seemed like he just feared it.”
The 25-year-old Marine, a gunner on a Humvee, was one of two Marines killed Dec. 21 when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad.
He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
About three weeks before his death, Mayhan called his mother from a military hospital. He was being treated for an injured hand and severe headaches after a bomb struck his Humvee.
“In my opinion he shouldn’t have been out there,” his mother told the Daily Breeze of Torrance. “My son survived an explosion, and within a month’s time they send him back out there. I think it was too early.”
Mayhan joined the Marine Corps in 2003 without explaining his decision to his mother, although she knew he was unhappy with his job at a retail store.
“I feared for my son, and so I was against it,” Hearn said. But, she added: “I was proud of him. He was a man at this time, and my job was to support him and his decision.”
Mayhan spoke English and Spanish and was learning Arabic. He had talked about a career with the Secret Service or elsewhere in law enforcement after he left the military, his mother said.
“I couldn’t ask for a better son,” she said. “It feels good to know that. He stood up and did what he had to do. He fought to the end.”
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Total U.S. deaths*:
* In and around Iraq**: 3,109
* In and around Afghanistan***: 297
* Other locations***: 56
Source: Department of Defense* Includes military and Department of Defense-employed civilian personnel killed in action and in nonhostile circumstances
**As of Friday
***As of Feb. 3