Cesar F. Machado-Olmos dies in Iraq one week shy of 21st birthday
A Spanish Fork Marine was killed in Iraq Monday, the third Utahn to die there this month.
Lance Cpl. Cesar F. Machado-Olmos was killed in what was described as a non-combat Humvee accident in Al Anbar Province. He died exactly one week short of his 21st birthday.
Machado-Olmos, described by those who knew him as a young man with strong family ties, was on patrol with other Marines when the Humvee he was driving apparently over-turned as it traversed a sand dune. Machado-Olmos suffered trauma to the neck, chest and head, according to his uncle, Ernesto Castaneda.
Machado-Olmos was assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Department of Defense, which is investigating the incident.
“He was a gentle soul,” said Spanish Fork High School librarian Debbie Gardner. Gardner got to know Machado-Olmos when he volunteered as a librarian assistant during his senior year.
“He was kind, one of the most mannerly young men I knew,” she said.
Machado-Olmos spent his high school days taking some unusual classes, including home economics. His manners and kind-hearted interests revealed a softness to his character that was captured even in his senior yearbook photo.
Gardner said that in the 2001 edition he is seen sewing with the caption, “It’s cool to show your sensitive side.”
“He was a bright spot in his family,” Gardner said.
Machado-Olmos had an appreciation for literature and a desire to help others. According to Gardner, he was also an avid history buff, as she recalled helping him look up facts about World War II.
“He loved books,” Gardner said. “He knew the New York Times best seller list before I did.”
Knowing her son’s penchant for books, Machado-Olmos’ mother recently sent him a book to read. “I’ll bet he hasn’t even received it yet,” Gardner recalled his mother saying.
The family declined to comment on their loss.
Machado-Olmos is survived by his mother; a brother, Esau Acosta, 12, and a sister, Samantha, 8. His father, Jose Manuel Machado, died when Machado-Olmos was a child.
Machado-Olmos graduated from Spanish Fork High School in 2001 and joined the U.S. Marines shortly after graduation, Castaneda said. Machado-Olmos went to Iraq when the war started and had been home twice during his tenure.
The last time the young Marine visited home was two months ago.
Gardner said she remembers asking Machado-Olmos why he wanted to join the Marines instead of going on to college.
“Because they’re the best,” she remembered him saying. “That was the only answer I ever got.”
Two other Utah Marines, Lance Cpl. Michael Allred, 22, of Hyde Park, Cache County, and Lance Cpl. Quinn A. Keith, 22, of Blanding, were killed September 6 in a terror attack at Fallujah.
Machado-Olmos’ death brings to nine, the number of Utahns killed in the Iraq conflict.
This story is reprinted with permission of Deseret Morning News in Utah.