www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2004/Oct-22-Fri-2004/news/25062821.htmlFALLEN MARINE 'A RIFLEMAN FIRST'
Family recalls combat photographer's creative side; burial Saturday in California
By KEITH ROGERS
William I. Salazar
In night-vision lighting, Marines with the 3rd Platoon, Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines conduct a raid Aug. 28 in Karabilah, Iraq.
An Iraqi civil defense soldier and an Iraqi police officer attend an after-action briefing during training June 7 at Camp Ali, Iraq.
Cpl. Johnathan Mann of Bowling Green, Ky., mounts a .50-caliber machine gun on a 7-ton truck during convoy training May 17 in Al Asad, Iraq.
Family, friends and 150 Marines from Camp Pendleton will bury Cpl. William I. Salazar of Las Vegas on Saturday in Southern California, the family said.
The 26-year-old combat photographer was killed one week ago along with two soldiers and an interpreter in a suicide car-bomb attack in Karabilah, Iraq.
Part of his job was to make training tapes of Americans teaching Iraqis how to be their own security force, family members said.
His regimental combat camera chief, Staff Sgt. Paul Anstine, who served with Salazar through September in Iraq, has described the fallen Marine as an aspiring still photographer and videographer while still being "a rifleman first."
"He was a motivated Marine. ... He really liked doing video," Anstine said in an interview this week.
Their work focused on documenting the war as well as taking video and photographs for combat analysis.
The family said Salazar will be buried next to his older brother, Gus Salazar Jr., who was killed by a drunk driver 13 years ago.
William Salazar had lived in Las Vegas since 2001, the year he decided to join the Marines to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, Lou Salazar, 53, of Las Vegas, who served in the Vietnam War.
Lou Salazar said his nephew joined the Marines because he was motivated by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. He wanted, as well, to continue his pursuit of photography and videography like his father, Gus Salazar Sr., and stepmother, Jennifer Nejman-Salazar, who work for a film production company.
"When William came out on film and video shoots when he was visiting his dad to watch, I would give him a few bucks to make him feel part of the crew and ask him to help pull cables and run errands as a production assistant," Nejman-Salazar said in an e-mail Thursday. She said her stepson "was very creative and drew lots of pictures," including covers for party mix CDs that he recorded for friends. He also played trombone.
"All of these interests get together in the entertainment industry. It was just natural for him to be involved," she said in the e-mail. "It was great that he was able to pursue it through the Marines. His second choice was bomb dismantling, which I didn't want him to go into."
When on leave, he would show videotapes he had shot and they would talk about improving the lighting, sound and interview techniques, Nejman-Salazar said.
"He was so excited to tell me that he had shot from a helicopter, hand-holding the camera and had kept the picture so steady for so long," she said.
William Isac Salazar was born Feb. 15, 1978, in the Los Angeles area, the son of Gus and Gloria Salazar.
Raised in Lynwood, Calif., he graduated from South Gate High School and later attended East Los Angeles College and Santa Monica College where he studied computer graphic design before moving to Las Vegas.
Lou Salazar said his nephew's goal was to use his veterans benefits to buy a home in Las Vegas and further his education to become an editor or producer.
After joining the Marines on Dec. 10, 2001, in Las Vegas, he finished boot camp at Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, and later completed advanced training in combat photography and videography at Fort Meade, Md. He was assigned to headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division and spent about a year touring such places as Okinawa, Singapore and Japan.
He arrived in Iraq in May attached to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines at a forward operating base along Iraq's western border with Syria.
Gus Salazar turned 56 the day his son was killed on a mission to Karabilah near Qaim, Iraq, an insurgent hotbed. His son was a passenger in Humvee when the car-bomb attack occurred Oct. 15 injuring his arm and forehead. He died while being transported to a hospital and was recommended for the Purple Heart medal.
Friends can pay their respects beginning at 4 p.m. today at Risher Montebello Mortuary, 1316 Whittier Blvd., Montebello, Calif.
After a Mass at 9 a.m. Saturday at Saint Hilary Catholic Church in Pico Rivera, Calif., Salazar will be buried with full military honors at Resurrection Cemetery in Montebello, Calif. His military awards include the National Defense Service medal and the Sea Service Deployment ribbon.
He is survived by his father, Gus, of Winnetka, Calif.; his mother, Gloria, of Bullhead City, Ariz.; stepmother, Jennifer Nejman-Salazar, of Winnetka; brothers, Sammy Acosta, of Honolulu, and Gabriel Salazar, of Temple City, Calif.; sister Andrea Jacobo, of Pico Rivera, Calif.; and grandparents Isaias and Irene Salazar, of Los Angeles.