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          Front Page




Local Marine Killed in Iraq; Soldier Graduated From Eldorado High

By Miguel Navrot
Journal Staff Writer
    A 20-year-old Marine from Albuquerque died in fighting in western Iraq earlier this week.
    Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Adlesperger, a 2003 graduate of Eldorado High School, was the fourth man from Albuquerque killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion last year.
    Adlesperger briefly attended the University of New Mexico before joining the Marine Corps, said his uncle Dennis Adlesperger.
    "He always wanted to be a Marine," Adlesperger said late Friday, a day after the family learned of his nephew's death. "It was something he wanted to do his whole life because of what they do and because they are the best."
    Adlesperger is the eighth serviceman with ties to New Mexico killed in Iraq since March 2003. According to Pentagon numbers released Friday, 1,282 U.S. troops have died in Iraq; more than 9,700 have been wounded.
    The oldest of four children, Christopher Adlesperger served as a rifleman in the 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He had been stationed in Iraq since September, his uncle said, and kept in touch with the family regularly through e-mail and letters.
    His uncle received an e-mail from Iraq on Wednesday. Adlesperger had just been promoted to lance corporal and put in charge of a rifle squad.
    "He was very excited," Dennis Adlesperger said. "He was just very upbeat."
    Few details of Adlesperger's death were known Friday. A Marine news release said he died fighting in Iraq's Al Anbar province, the large area to the west of Baghdad that includes Fallujah. More than 70 Marines died there last month in battles with insurgents.
    An earlier statement from the military that didn't name Adlesperger said a Marine died Thursday while "conducting security and stabilization operations."
    Dennis Adlesperger said the family is expecting further details of his nephew's death today from Marine officials.
    Christopher Adlesperger's parents, Gary Adlesperger and Annette Montoya, live in Albuquerque, as do his surviving siblings.
    Adlesperger ran track and wrestled at Eldorado High. He was a tad mischievous, his uncle said. On occasion, Adlesperger would sneak up on family and friends to wrestle with them.
    "He was always looking to have fun," said his uncle. "He loved the outdoors, he loved sports. He loved being around people, but he was competitive."
    After graduation, Adlesperger tried some classes at UNM but decided it wasn't for him, his uncle said. On Dec. 1, 2003, he joined the Marines, where he was ultimately put in charge of leading other men in combat.
    "He felt like that was what he wanted to do— go over there and defend us," Dennis Adlesperger said. "He knew when he was signed up that he was probably going over. That was his duty."
    Lance Cpl. Adlesperger was a recipient of the National Defense Service Medal and the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, said Camp Pendleton duty officer Gunnery Sgt. William Thompson.
    The other three Albuquerque men killed in Iraq are Army Spc. Jeremy Christensen, 27, who died Nov. 27; Army Spc. Christopher Merville, 26, who died this past October; and Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Ramos, 26, who died in April.
    In November 2003, a special operations pilot assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base, Maj. Steven Plumhoff, 33, died serving in Afghanistan.