William Salazar''s job in Iraq was to record footage of the war from behind a camera, something his family assumed would be less dangerous. But by October, the 26-year-old Marine was getting worried.
"Dad, It''s getting tight around here," he wrote in an e-mail to his father, Gus. "There have been a few near misses with road bombs. It''s scary, but I''m tough. I''ll be OK."
Salazar, of Las Vegas, died Oct. 15 in a car bomb explosion. He was based at Camp Pendleton.
Salazar was always interested in graphic design and the film industry. After graduating from high school in Lynwood, Calif., he took a handful of graphic arts classes at the Art Institute of Los Angeles and played trombone for a local jazz band before moving to Las Vegas and joining the Marines. He was excited to become a combat photographer.
"We were excited for him, until he said he was going to Iraq," said his uncle, Lou Salazar.
The Marine told his family he was going to war the day before Mother''s Day.
"My heart just broke when he told me," said his mother, Gloria Salazar. "As a mother, you support your son whatever he wants to do and you just pray every day that he''ll come home to you safe. But he didn''t. He never came home."
Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 28, 2005.