A deadly month: The lives and stories of 22 Californians who died in one brutal month in the war on terror

Oscar Jimenez participated in the first U.S. invasion of Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, and the San Diego resident returned as coalition forces deposed Saddam Hussein.

In 2004, for the third time, he was deployed to Iraq as a member of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Twentynine Palms, Calif.

On Easter Sunday, Jimenez was commanding a seven-vehicle convoy near the edge of Fallouja in Anbar province. A small girl led a herd of cattle across the highway in front of the Marine vehicles. As the convoy slowed, dozens of gunmen opened fire from behind the tall grass and surrounding buildings.

Jimenez was shot in the leg. He radioed a warning to the other Marines in his convoy. “Hurry up. We got to get out of here,” he said, according to Associated Press. As Marines launched a fierce counterattack and pushed the convoy ahead, Jimenez, 34, a father of three, was shot in the head and killed.

The first lieutenant wanted to be a Marine since he was a boy.

“Oscar had the perfect balance in life,” said Ben Soto, his brother-in-law. “He worked hard, he was devoted to his family and he still made time for his friends.”

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