Monrovia `weeps for one of its sons'
21-year-old Marine killed in Iraq
By Gene Maddaus Staff Writer
MONROVIA - Raul Mercado had a 3.5 GPA at Monrovia High School, and was admitted to every college to which he applied.
Instead he chose to enlist in the Marine Corps, hoping someday to get into West Point.
On Saturday, he was killed in Iraq when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. He was 21.
Mercado is the first Monrovia serviceman to die in Iraq. The City Council is expected next week to ask that flags be flown at half-staff on Jan. 19 in his honor.
"Monrovia weeps for one of its sons," said Mayor Rob Hammond. "This tragedy touches us all. The sympathies of the entire community are with the Mercado family today."
Mercado was born in the United States, but raised in Mexico.
The family returned to Monrovia in time for him to attend high school.
He was an athlete, participating in track, cross-country and basketball. He was still learning English, and so his verbal SAT scores weren't high enough for an elite school like West Point, said his counselor, Oscar Ibarra.
"He was really set on going to West Point," Ibarra said. "He saw the military as a way of getting in."
Mercado chose the Marines because he felt it was the toughest branch of the armed services, Ibarra said.
He was assigned to 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and rose to the rank of lance corporal.
He was riding in a vehicle in Al Karmah, in the southern area of Iraq near Basra, when the improvised explosive device detonated.
Mercado is survived by his mother, Celia Mercado, two sisters and a brother. He is also survived by his father, who lives in Mexico.
Students and staff at Monrovia High School plan to raise money to help the family with funeral costs.
Mercado will have a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 740 S. Shamrock Ave. Immediately following, there will be a service at Live Oak Cemetery including full military honors.
There will also be a public visitation from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday night, at Douglas and Zook Mortuary, 600 E. Foothill Blvd. There will be a rosary at 6:30 p.m.
Mercado's body will be shipped back to Guadalajara, Mexico, for burial.
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