Marine killed in Iraq remembered
PICO RIVERA, Calif. – Marine Cpl. William Salazar carried a rifle but hardly used it in Iraq.
Instead, he wielded a video camera to capture footage of the war and suspected terrorists and hoped his work might one day lead to a job in the film industry.
Salazar, 26, killed in an Oct. 15 suicide bombing in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, became the first Marine combat cameraman killed in action since 1967 during the Vietnam war, said his commander, Staff Sgt. Paul Anstine.
He was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.
At his funeral Saturday, the Las Vegas resident who grew up in the Los Angeles area was remembered by hundreds of family members, friends and Marines who said he fulfilled his ultimate dream of becoming a Marine.
“I’m sad but I can’t be much happier knowing that he lived and achieved his dream,” his father, 56-year-old Gus Salazar of Northridge, said at a family gathering following the memorial services.
William Salazar, one of about 20 Marine still and video cameramen serving in Iraq, shot footage of suspected terrorists, Iraqi government officials and vehicle checkpoints, Anstine said.
“He was not afraid to get close to the action,” Anstine said. “Some people are very shy and they use their zoom lenses. He wasn’t afraid to get right up there. … He loved the Marine Corps and loved what he did and had a great desire to be better, because he soaked up everything I could teach him.”
While on assignments, Salazar carried both a rifle and a Sony video camera equipped with night vision lenses. He received most of his assignments from Anstine through a secure e-mail network, but also was given the authority to chose missions within his division, Anstine said.
“Anything like raids, he wanted to go on. Sometimes he’d want to overwork himself by going on way too many missions,” said his former combat partner, Lance Cpl. Michael McMaugh, who went on missions with Salazar shooting photographs of the war. “He always wanted to be part of the action.”
Salazar had tried to join the Marines shortly after high school, but was turned down several times because he was overweight, his relatives and friends said.
When he was eventually recruited in November 2001, he had wanted to become a demolition expert but was assigned as a combat cameraman, in part, because of his education in graphic arts at the Art Institute of Los Angeles, his father said.
Salazar, who was scheduled to complete his tour in February, had debated whether to remain in the Marines or return to California to find work as a cameraman in the film industry.
“Just come back safe,” his uncle, 53-year-old Lou Salazar of Las Vegas, said he told him the last time they talked