Marine Lieutenant Colonel Mario D. Carazo was killed in action on July 22, 2010 when his AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter went down during engaged combat in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Pendleton, California. He was serving on his seventh deployment at the time of his death.

Lt. Col. Carazo was the youngest of four children and the only U.S.-born member of his immigrant family from Puerto Rico. He persevered through a language barrier to graduate from Cerritos High School and go on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1991, as well as two subsequent master’s degrees. He received his Wings of Gold in 1994, and went on to earn a number of awards that included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Meritorious Service Medal. He was known to never leave his home without some sort of Marine insignia displayed proudly on his person. “He always wanted to be a Marine serving his country and protecting those he loved,” said Robert Barry, Carazo’s roommate at the Naval Academy. “While I am extremely sad, I know he didn’t go down without a fight and he went down doing what he always wanted to do.”

Lieutenant Colonel Carazo is survived by his wife and two children. The Travis Manion Foundation honored Lt. Col. Carazo through the Character Does Matter program presented during the USNA’s Summer Seminar and USNA STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Camp for rising 11th graders.

Mario’s service was honored during the 2016 Teen Expedition.

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