GLENDALE — A local Marine was one of two killed Saturday during combat in the Helmand province in Afghanistan, U.S. Department of Defense officials announced Tuesday.
Lance Cpl. Pedro A. Barbozaflores, 27, of Glendale, and Master Sgt. Jerome D. Hatfield, 36, of Axton, Va., died Saturday while supporting combat operations in southern Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.
The pair were reportedly killed when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle.
“Certainly our condolences go out to his family,” said Capt. Timothy Patrick of the II Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs office.
Barbozaflores’ body may arrive stateside as soon as Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, with his military honors scheduled for Saturday in Glendale, a Marine Corps Casualty Affairs officer said.
Barbozaflores, who attended Hoover and Allan F. Daily high schools, was deployed in June to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, officials said.
He was not married and had no children, Patrick added.
His parents live in Utah and other family members live in California, a Marine Corps official said.
Barbozaflores and Hatfield made up one of the largest Marine operations in the country since 2001, which called for about 4,000 Marines to drive through the Helmand province, according to news reports.
“Marines are our greatest assets,” Patrick said.
Barbozaflores joined the Marine Corps in March 2008, was promoted to lance corporal in December and was crewman in a light-armored vehicle, according to the Defense Department.
He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in the 2nd Marine Division for the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Barbozaflores earned the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Patrick said.
The Glendale Chamber of Commerce’s Patriotism and Citizenship Committee will create a military banner for Barbozaflores, committee member Mirna Stanley said.
The banners hang on light poles along Glendale Avenue from San Fernando Road to Doran Street in honor of military personnel who were in active duty and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001.
“We’ll have his name and his branch of service on it, and it will have a gold star,” Stanley said.
The City Council was scheduled to adjourn Tuesday’s regular meeting in Barbozaflores’ memory. And Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office, in announcing that flags at the state Capitol would be flown at half-staff, honored the Marine’s “admirable service and noble sacrifice.”
U.S. Marine Corps Col. James McGinley, a Glendale resident, didn’t know Barbozaflores, but said his death was a great loss.
“The loss of any of our military service members in combat is always an individual tragedy because we are losing an American patriot,” he said.
McGinley, a Glendale resident, returned home June 20 after a year in Iraq, whose barren landscape provides little cover to troops during battle.
Still, most combat operations in Iraq are in urban environments, he said.
He anticipated another deployment to Afghanistan in six months to a year.
“We expect that Afghanistan will, in the near term, be a difficult operating environment,” McGinley said. “But as operations continue, we expect that location by location, various different geographic areas will begin to stabilize with our increased focus and efforts in Afghanistan.”
McGinley said troops killed in combat have given the ultimate sacrifice for everyone’s freedom.
“Most importantly our thoughts and prayers always go out to the families of the fallen because we know that the sacrifice is unbelievably difficult as well as personal when they lose a family member,” he said.
VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.