Roadside bomb kills Marine in Afghanistan
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.’
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.