Road­side bomb kills Ma­rine in Afghanistan

Los Angeles Times - - Obituaries - Cather­ine Sail­lant cather­ine.sail­

Apoignant mile­stone passed last week for the fam­ily of Ma­rine Cpl. Julio Var­gas, who was killed July 20 by a road­side bomb in the Hel­mand prov­ince of Afghanistan.

On Wed­nes­day, the rest of Var­gas’ pla­toon re­turned home to Camp Pendle­ton, un­der­scor­ing the loss for Var­gas’ new bride and other loved ones.

The 23-year-old Ma­rine was sup­posed to be com­ing home too.

“It hurts,” said Rosa Var­gas, 25. “We’ve been brac­ing our­selves for this.”

Julio Var­gas ded­i­cated his life to serv­ing oth­ers, his wife said.

He knew from a young age that he wanted to be a po­lice of­fi­cer and he fo­cused in­tensely on that goal, she said.

He was a Boy Scout and, as a teenager, vol­un­teered in the San Fer­nando Po­lice Depart­ment’s Ex­plorer pro­gram.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Syl­mar High School, Var­gas went to a small town in Texas to teach the Gospel for the Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints.

He had al­ways been de­vout, at­tend­ing the lo­cal Mor­mon church in Syl­mar as a child.

That was how he got to know Rosa. They mar­ried in De­cem­ber at the LDS tem­ple in Santa Mon­ica.

“He was vi­brant,” his wife said.

“He was one of those peo­ple who when they walked into a room, you could feel the en­ergy rise.”

En­list­ing in the Ma­rine Corps in Fe­bru­ary 2008 was just an­other step in Var­gas’ life plan, she said. He hoped to com­plete his duty and then go to col­lege to gain the skills needed to spe­cial­ize in foren­sic polic­ing.

Then they’d planned to start a fam­ily, she said.

Var­gas was on his first over­seas tour and was pa­trolling a neigh­bor­hood when a road­side bomb det­o­nated, killing him.

He was an as­sault am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cle crewman with the 3rd As­sault Am­phib­ian Bat­tal­ion of the 1st Ma­rine Di­vi­sion, 1st Ma­rine Ex­pe­di­tionary Force.

Var­gas grew up in Syl­mar, the son of par­ents who had em­i­grated from Mex­ico, Rosa Var­gas said. His

‘He was vi­brant. He was one of those peo­ple who when they walked into a room, you could feel the en­ergy rise.’

Rosa Var­gas,

Ma­rine’s widow

mother, Enedelia, is a food ser­vice worker at St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal; his fa­ther, Agustin, is re­tired from do­ing odd jobs.

In ad­di­tion to his wife and par­ents, Var­gas is sur­vived by two broth­ers, Julio’s iden­ti­cal twin, Agustin, who is in the Army Re­serves, and a younger brother, Ulises, 21.

Acrowd of 1,200 at­tended his fu­neral, Rosa Var­gas said.

His burial was at For­est Lawn Me­mo­rial-Park, Hollywood Hills, and his cas­ket was ac­com­pa­nied by the Free­dom Rid­ers, a group of vet­er­ans on mo­tor­cy­cles, she said.

Her hus­band would have been proud, she thinks.

“A lot of peo­ple think sol­diers join be­cause of the pay, but it’s not great,” she said.

“It’s them be­liev­ing in what they do and then go­ing out there with their big hearts.”

GEN­ER­OUS Var­gas, who died on his first over­seas tour, ded­i­cated his life to serv­ing

oth­ers, his wife said.

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