Jesse Nathanael Aliganga – Sergeant, United States Marine Corps


Marine Sergeant Jesse Nathanael Aliganga, 21, killed by a car-bomb explosion along with eleven fellow Americans as he guarded the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday, August 7, 1998.  Aliganga was serving in the Marine Security Unit, and “He died serving his country,” said Marine Corps public relations officer, Captain Landon Hutchens.

Nathan, as they called him, joined the Marines in 1994, shortly after graduating from highschool in Tallahassee, Florida, where his family still lives.   His mother Clara Aliganga, 43, said, “He was so proud to be a Marine.   (Being a Marine) was something he was bound and determined to do.   He was so proud he made it through boot camp at Parris Island (South Carolina).   It was something he was really good at.”

Nathan's sister, Leah Colston, 26, of Tallahassee, Florida, recalled how he was a little prone to putting on weight. Then he joined the Marines and when he came back from basic training the next year her little brother Nathan was slim and had toughened up so that she barely recognized him. “He's not big in stature, but he's got a big heart,” she said.

Nathan original enlistment was in January 1995. His training included recruit training at Parris Island, combat training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, training as a communications specialist at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty-Nine Palms, California, and the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Nathan was sent to Nairobi in late February 1998, when he completed Marine Security Guard School at Quantico, Virginia. Nathan held posts in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Pendleton, California. At the end of his original three-year enlistment last year, he agreed to a 30-month extension.

Nathan wanted to become sergeant before the end of his first four-year tour of duty with the Marines, in July 1998. “He had so many goals,” his mother Clara said.   This was one of the goals he did attain. Despite the initial U.S. Embassy press release that erroneously listed him as “Corporal Nathan Aliganga”, it was Sergeant Jesse Nathanael Aliganga who died in Kenya.

At a memorial service at Quantico, Virginia, Nathan's mother was given her son's Purple Heart Medal. “They told me how wonderful my son was and that he was a good soldier. I know he was.”said Clara Aliganga. Burial is planned in Arlington National Cemetery.

Sergeant Jesse Nathanael Aliganga, USMC

In Tallahassee, Florida, relatives of Jesse Nathanael Aliganga, a 21-year-old Marine sergeant also killed in the bombing remembered him as a little guy with a big heart.

“He had so many goals,” said his mother, Clara Aliganga, 43, who runs a day-care center out of her home. He wanted to make sergeant in his first four-year tour, and was proud when he did in July. After postings in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aliganga finished the security guard school in Quantico and was sent to Nairobi.

Aliganga was born in Oakland, California, and grew up in Pensacola, Florida, becoming an energetic and ambitious youth who liked drawing, reading Greek mythology, playing the saxophone in his high school band and collecting comic books, family members recalled.

When he was assigned to Nairobi in February, his sister, Leah Colston said: “My mother had great misgivings. . . . You hear about these things that can happen.” But her brother seemed happy.

At first, Clara Aliganga said, the State Department told her that Nathan was in the hospital. But later Friday, she learned that he was listed as missing. And yesterday morning military officials came to her home. “They said he . . . had died at his post,” she said.

His sister said the family is hurting. “He promised us he was going to come home,” she said.

“It doesn't end the pain,” Clara Aliganga told reporters afterward. Her son, Nathan, was killed in the blast. “I just hope this will send a message to the terrorists — we will have justice served,” she said

At the trial:

Jurors and spectators cried again during testimony by the prosecution's final witness, Clara Aliganga, of Tallahassee, Florida. The witness — mother of Sergeant Nathan Aliganga, 21, a Marine who died in Nairobi — said she wished her son could “hold me so tight like he used to and say, ‘Mom, I love you.”‘

The mother of a 20-year-old US Marine guard killed by the bomb told the jury that her son had had a close relationship with his young niece. “All she ever heard was that her uncle had gone to heaven,” testified Clara Aliganga. “And one day she asked when he would be coming home. She said, God has had him up there an awfully long time.”

Clara Aliganga, mother of Jesse Aliganga, Marine sergeant killed in Kenya (speaking outside courtroom):

“I'm happy for the verdict that came through …. It doesn't erase the pain. The jury did an excellent job, and I just hope that this will give a message to the terrorists that we won't take this lightly as Americans, that there will be justice to the families when they attack us, that we're not just going to sit back and not do anything about it. We will take it to court and that we'll see justice is served.”

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