Marc Andrew Arizmendez
Staff Sergeant, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 594-10
DOD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died July 6, 2010, at Qalat, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Hohenfels, Germany.
Staff Sergeant Marc A. Arizmendez, 30, of Anaheim, Califfornia
Specialist Roger Lee, 26, of Monterey, California
Private First Class Michael S. Pridham, 19, of Louisville, Kentucky
For more information related to this release,
the media may contact the Joint Multinational Readiness Center public affairs
office at 011-49-9472-83-5541.
He loved the Army and all of the opportunities and challenges it afforded him, and was transformed by those experiences, said his older brother, Al, at a 75-minute memorial service at St. Boniface Catholic Church in downtown Anaheim.
The shadows of veterans line the walkway leading to St.Boniface Church in Anaheim, as they gathered to show support for fallen soldier, Army Staff Sargeant Marc A. Arizmendez at a memorial service in Anaheim. His brother,George Arizmendez said he was deeply touched by the more than two dozen supporters holding flags.
He came back to us a new and better man," Al Arizmendez told about 200 mourners. "He found it comfortable, exciting, and the Army offered him ways to teach. He was richer in that way, more than many people I know."
Arizmendez, 30, lost his life July 6, 2010, in Qalat, Afghanistan, when the vehicle he was traveling in was bombed by insurgents. Two of his comrades – Specialist Roger Lee, 26, of Monterey, California, and Private first Class Michael S. Pridham, 19, of Louisville, Kentucky – also were killed in the blast.
Family members said Arizmendez had a transforming effect on their lives, as they watched a "rabble-rouser" who nearly joined a gang in middle school grow up to become a focused, compassionate man intensely devoted to military service and his family.
"I'm going to dedicate the few things in my life that mean something to me" to him, said Al Arizmendez, 44. "I want him right there, in the front of my mind."
From now on, Al Arizmendez said, every time he smiles for a photo, he will say "Hey chief!" instead of "Cheese!" in honor of the standard greeting his brother used.
Saturday's memorial services were presided over by Father Timothy Freyer of St. Boniface Catholic Church, who led Mass.
Arizmendez's mother, Amelia, sat in the front row and kept her hands clasped in silent, tearful prayer throughout much of the service. She attends St. Boniface weekly, Al Arizmendez said, and is president of the St. Boniface chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic charity organization.
Arizmendez's two brothers and two sisters participated in the Mass, reading Biblical passages and offering up prayers as mourners quietly dried their eyes.
"He was willing to lay down his life for each of us, for the friends whom he knew by name and the millions he did not know," Freyer said during the Mass. "We give thanks for Marc and (all the others) who are willing to lay down their life for us."
Arizmendez is the 55th service member from Orange County to die in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2002, according to Register records.
Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle and Anaheim Police Chief John Welter were among the guests Saturday, and about 25 members of St. Boniface's choir stood in the back, leading mourners in singing hymns, including "On Eagle's Wings" during Communion.
"And He will raise you up on eagle's wings," mourners sang, "bear you on the breath of dawn, make you shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand."
Saturday's service was for Arizmendez's local family and friends. His remains are at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and he will be buried August 11 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with full military honors, Al Arizmendez said.
Marc Andrew Arizmendez was born March 30, 1980, in Hollywood, the youngest of five children. He grew up in Monterey Park, but his mother transferred him to St. Catherine's Military Academy in Anaheim after he was nearly initiated into a local gang in middle school. The family eventually moved to downtown Anaheim to be closer to St. Catherine's, and Arizmendez completed seventh and eighth grades there.
Arizmendez attended Schurr High School in Montebello, then completed an automotive certificate program at Fullerton College. Although he initially had little interest in military service, he decided he wanted to join the Army when he was 17.
He enlisted in the Army about six months after graduating high school, Al Arizmendez said. One of his demands upon enlisting was that he be sent to Germany, the home of his favorite car, the Volkswagen.
He was assigned to the 1st Batallion, 4th Infantry Regiment in Hohenfels, Germany, where he met his wife, Barbara, a native of Germany. They married secretly, without telling Arizmendez's family in advance, Al Arizmendez said, and together had two children – Jenny, 8, and Justin, 7.
Arizmendez completed a one-year tour of duty
in Iraq in 2005; his deployment to Afghanistan was his first.
Mourners remembered Arizmendez on Saturday as a goofy, independent-minded teenager who loved to rebuild cars in his mother's garage, especially old VWs. His mother still has a 1970s-era Golf and Beetle in her garage.
Family members also recalled Arizmendez's unwavering devotion to his wife and kids. Those sentiments are echoed by his wife, Barbara, whose heartfelt postings on Facebook just a week before his death poignantly illustrate that love.
"Didn't sleep all night, and now I'm soooooooooooooooo tired!" Barbara Arizmendez wrote on June 29, alternating between German and English. "I miss my husband. You know how it is. I sometimes have such nights when he's not there."
About 12 hours later, she posted again, this time with happier news: "I knew I was gonna sleep good tonight, but now even better! Marc called, it felt soooooooooo good to talk to him!"
After the service, Al Arizmendez recalled how his kid brother – 14 years his junior – referred to himself as "Cram," which is Marc spelled backwards, and wore baggy pants, listened to speed metal music and drank Monster energy drinks.
"My brothers and sisters and I are planning Cram-apalooza," he said with a chuckle, referring to the famous Lollapalooza music festival. "We're going to drink Monsters and listen to speed metal."
Arizmendez is survived by wife Barbara, children Jenny and Justin, mother Amelia, father Albert, and siblings Al, George, Ada and Jackie.
To make a donation to Marc Arizmendez's children, send a check to the following military address:
M. Arizmendez Kid's Trust Fund
(Note: APO AE stands for Army Post Office,
Armed Forces Europe. A letter to this military address requires only regular,
Former Anaheim resident Marc Andrew Arizmendez was killed in action on July 6, 2010, in Afghanistan. Neighbors have lined the street with American flags in Marc's honor.
Staff Sgt. Arizmendez, who was 30, lost his life on July 6 in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was travelling in was bombed by insurgents.
Arizmendez lived his life inspiring those around him.
"He loved life and his children, but he was willing to give it up for his country," said Arizmendez's mother, Amelia. "You can't help but to admire his life."
Amelia Arizmendez said her son didn't always have a life to admire. The youngest of five children, Marc was described by his mother as a "rabble-rouser" who frequently got into trouble.
What proved to be the turning point in her son's life was when she found out 12-year-old Marc was going to be initiated into a local gang.
"I opened up the phone book and the first school I saw was St. Catherine's," she said. "I thought the kid was going to hate me for the rest of his life."
The younger Arizmendez attended St. Catherine's for seventh and eighth grades, and the family eventually moved into a house in Anaheim in 1994, so Marc could walk to the school.
"He found a love for cars, especially VWs," Amelia Arizmendez said. "He didn't like St. Catherine's at first, but by the time he left, he had settled in."
The love of cars stayed with Arizmendez. After he graduated in 1998 from Schurr High School in Montebello, he enrolled in the Automotive Technology Certificate Program at Fullerton College.
"He had a 1965 bus, two more Volkswagens and a Golf," Amelia Arizmendez said. "So when he told us that he was going to join the Army, it was a shock."
Marc's parents made him wait until he was 18 before he could join the Army.
"He said he wanted to fix tanks," she said. "And he wanted to go to Germany where they made Volkswagens."
To get his station and appointment, Amelia
Arizmendez told Marc he had to get a perfect score on his practical exams.
Marc was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, based in Hohenfels, Germany. It was in Germany that he met and married his wife, Barbara, and had a daughter and a son: Jenny, 8, and Justin, 7.
"He loved his kids," Amelia Arizmendez said. "I'll miss his smile and the way he played with his kids."
Amelia Arizmendez said her son loved being in the Army almost as much as he loved his children and his Volkswagens.
"He was so determined to fight for his country," she said. "He had a raw courage and wasn't afraid of anything."
In a letter to the family written after the serviceman's death, the mom's neighbor Michael Valenti said Arizmendez was devoted to serving his country.
"He and I talked about his decision to join the military," Valenti wrote. "I know that he was very clear and certain about what he wanted to do for himself, his family and his country."
Arizmendez, Specialist Roger Lee, 26, of Monterey, and Private First Class Michael S. Pridham, 19, of Louisville, Kentucky, were killed in Qalat, Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
More than 700 people have joined a memorial page for Arizmendez on Facebook; those who knew him echoed the sentiments of his mother and her neighbor.
"(Arizmendez) was a great man, a force unto himself," one person wrote. "Nothing can truly put into words the true man Marc was."
Amelia Arizmendez said Marc will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia sometime after August 1. A memorial is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Boniface Church, 120 N. Janss St., just a few blocks from St. Catherine's. The public can attend.
"There's only pain and hurt that I won't get to talk to him again in this life," she said.
Neighbors were trying to do what they could.
Several dropped by the other day with food and cards. Lining the block where the mom and other family members live, in the house from which Marc had walked to school, were scores of American flags, large and small.
Arizmendez is survived by his wife, Barbara;
children Jenny and Justin; mother, Amelia; father, Albert; and siblings
Al, George, Ada and Jackie.
Marc's Platoon Sergeant, SFC Sean Abbott, delivered the following memorial address regarding him:
"SSG Marc Arizmendez…………a Leader, a Father, a Husband, a Friend.
"I remember the first day we met. We shook hands as he introduced himself. I knew from his appearance and the way he spoke I was dealing with a professional. He was ready to work, completely energetic. I could tell that he was ready for any challenge. He proved this time and time again. Whether it was completing daily tasks or during the training for deployment, in everything he did he gave it his all. When I informed him he was going to be responsible for a squad, consisting of another mechanic, the mortar team and both medics, he took this in full stride. Before the day was through he had set himself up for success in leading these Soldiers. He knew all of his vehicles, he knew his Soldiers, he loved them and they soon felt the same for him.
"As soon as we arrived at FOB Lagman, the RIP/TOA not yet begun, SSG Arizmendez tossed his bags in the room and without unpacking he went directly to the maintenance bay, turning wrenches on vehicles we had not yet inherited and teaching mechanics who weren’t even his. He would work 17-18 hour days, concerned that there was only a short time to get all the vehicles fully mission capable for our platoon. He told me that our platoon deserved the best and he would do just that. In only a matter of days he positively influenced the readiness rate. He came to me and assured me that before the week was out that he would double the OR. Each day he would come to me and report that he had completed all that could be accomplished in one day than inform me he would be going to the gym, even if it was 0100 hours.
"One night as I conducted my rounds to check on my Soldiers, I stopped at the maintenance bay. I found SSG Arizmendez working diligently underneath a HMMWV. I knelt down next to the vehicle to speak with him. He wheeled himself out from underneath and assured me the vehicle would be completed that night. I noticed he seemed a bit fatigued. I told him he must take a break to make sure he was good to go, joking that he had to complete a proper PMCS on himself. He asked if he could have a few more hours to finish the work. I told him he had about 5 minutes to get out of there and get to bed. He beamed with his trademark smile, a gleam in his eye and he stated to me…”5 minutes huh? …. I’ve got three more to work and two to get to the rack.” He was a man who tried to fix everything and I fully believe, if given the chance he could have fixed the world.
"SSG Arizmendez and I would often burn the midnight oil together; whether working on NCOERs or awards, speaking about the best way to help Soldiers or talking about career progression. He wanted to be at the next level. I can say without a doubt, he was a Sergeant First Class all the way and the epitome of a Non-Commissioned Officer. A perfectionist who strived to do everything correctly and then he would work to improve upon that by finding a way to make things more efficient. He tried to make everyone into a mechanic. The Soldiers loved learning from him and they wanted to be like him. What a role model for all; subordinates, peers and leaders.
"He was a loving husband and caring father. He often spoke of his family with me after informing me of his “Countdown to going home” I recall one night before our deployment when the platoon leadership went to a dinner. My wife and I sat next to the Arizmendez family. It was a memorable night, one I’ll hold onto forever. His love for his wife, Barbara, and his two children, Jennifer and Justin, was apparent in his every word and interaction. Their love, adoration and respect for him were just as tangible.
"The days aren’t the same without him. I used to see him every morning for the Green 2 report and ready to get to work. At 0600 hours, I could hear his footsteps as he swung by to give the report. One morning he ended up second in getting the report to me. At 0550 sharp the next morning he arrived. Greeting him in the morning was like a shot of pure energy which would infuse you and motivate you to take on each day. I awake now, waiting to hear those footsteps, but they just don’t arrive anymore. We have suffered a loss which I feared we could not rebound. Yet anyone who knew SSG Arizmendez would know that he would not want this, that he would want the vehicles rolling and every Soldier moving on, to be fully mission capable. He would encourage us to move on together as a family, to give everything we have each day and remind us of his countdown to going home.
"In closing I want to share a quote from RC
'I did come home in the hearts and the minds of the living. Every man and every woman that came back brought a part of me. I have talked to you with their voices and loved you with their hearts. Do not be scared, for I am always with you. I will always be there in the still of the night. Be still, listen, you will hear my voice.'
"Rest In Peace, SSG Arizmendez. You will never be forgotten."
ARIZMENDEZ, MARC ANDREW
Posted: 20 July 2010 Updated: 19 August 2010 Updated: 14 October 2010 Updated: 26 July 2011 Updated: 27 July 2011
Photos By Eileen Horan, October 2010
Photo By Eileen Horan, August 2010