Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marine Lance Cpl. John F. Farias

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. John F. Farias, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas

LCpl Farias was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died June 28, 2011 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

San Antonio television station KENS 5 spoke with Farias’ parents, Felix and Penny, soon after they learned the news of their son’s death. The Farias, who live in New Braunfels, Texas, said John sent them a video of himself just two weeks ago. In the video, he told his family how his violent surroundings forced him to grow up quickly. He looked forward to returning home in October.

"I'm starting to change a lot. I'm kind of forced to grow up here," Farias said in the first video he sent home to New Braunfels, Texas, since deploying in April to southern Afghanistan's volatile Helmand province.

They were among his final words for his family. Farias was one of two Marines killed during combat operations in the province Tuesday, the Department of Defense said.

The deaths of Farias, 20, and Lance Cpl. Mark R. Goyet, 22, raise the death toll to at least 18 Marines killed this month in combat in Afghanistan, primarily in the southern provinces, according to an analysis of Department of Defense figures.

Southern Afghanistan's Helmand province has been the scene of fierce fighting following the poppy harvest, which has seen Taliban forces launch attacks against NATO troops.

Farias detailed some of his experiences for his parents, telling them about firefights that lasted between four and six hours. He told them about his fellow Marines, his buddies, asking that they "keep them in their prayers."

Just weeks from turning 21, Farias sounded older than his years. He talked about the experiences in "my short 21-year life."

"He is self-confident. He is assertive," Farias' father, Felix, said of his son's tone and appearance in the video. "He has matured, yes."

Farias' father alternated between present tense and past tense as he recalled his son's achievements during an interview with CNN, struggling with the realization that his son had been killed.

"He always wanted to go into the Marines. He always wanted to go infantry," he said late Wednesday night. "Nobody could imagine this could happen to him. He is so strong."

Farias joined the Marines in August 2009, enlisting as a private first class because he had earned the rank of Eagle Scout -- the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America.

With a backdrop of a blue Afghan sky, Farias told his family in the video that he "kind of took a look back at my life" in recent months and was taking on more responsibility in his life.

"I love ya'll," he said. "Take care. Take care of each other. I'll be home soon. "

Farias' mother, Penny, flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday to be on hand when her son's body arrived from Afghanistan. His father was scheduled to fly to the base as early as Thursday to escort his son's body home.

"I'm flying with him. I'm bringing my boy home," he said.

Marine Lance Cpl. John F. Farias was killed in action on 6/28/11.

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