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Captain Paul Alaniz was killed Jan. 26 when the CH-53E helicopter crashed near Rutbah, Iraq. An investigation found that the crew of the CH-53E became disoriented when weather turned bad, did not realize the helicopter was banking to the left, and flew the aircraft into the ground. Twenty-nine Marines and one sailor also were killed.
Four Marines from HMM-361 also lost their lives;
Captain Paul Alaniz
Capt. Lyle Gordon
Staff Sgt. Dexter Kimble
LCpl. Tony Hernandez
The Marines lost from BLT 1/3 in the helicopter crash were:
1st Lt. Travis J. Fuller, 26, a native of Granville, Mass.
1st Lt. Dustin M. Shumney, 30, a native of Viellejo, Calif.
Staff Sgt. Brian D. Bland, 26, from Westion, Wyo.
Sgt. Michael W. Finke Jr., 28, from Huron, Ohio
Cpl. Richard A. Gilbert Jr., 26, a native of Montgomery, Ohio
LCpl. Stephen P. Johnson, 24, from Covina, Calif.
Cpl. Timothy A. Knight, 22, a native of Brooklyn, Ohio
Cpl. Timothy M. Gibson, 23, from Hillsborough, N.H.
Cpl. Sean P. Kelly, 23, from Gloucester, N.J.
Cpl. Kyle J. Grimes, 21, a native of North Hampton, Penn.
Cpl. Nathaniel K. Moore, 22, from Champaign, Ill.
Cpl. James L. Moore, 24, a native of Roseburg, Ore.
Cpl. Nathan A. Schubert, 22, from Cherokee, Iowa
Cpl. Matthew R. Smith, 24, a native of West Valley, Utah
Petty Officer 3rd Class John D. House, 28, from Ventura, Calif.
LCpl. Brian C. Hopper 21, a native of Wynne, Ark.
LCpl. Jonathan E. Etterling, 22, from Wheelersburg, Ohio
LCpl. Fred L. Maciel, 20, a native of Spring, Texas
LCpl. Allan Klein, 34, from Clinton Township, Mich.
LCpl. Gael Saintvil, 24, a native of Orange, Fl.
LCpl. Mourad Ragimov, 20, from San Diego, Calif.
LCpl. Rhonald Rairdan, 20, a native of San Antonio, Texas
LCpl. Saeed Jafarkhani-turshizi, 25, from Fort Worth, Texas
LCpl Hector Ramos, 20, a native of Aurora, Ill.
LCpl. Darrell J. Schumann, 25, from Hampton, Va.
LCpl. Joseph P. Spence, 24, from Scotts Valley, Calif.
Cpl. Michael L. Starr Jr., 21, a native of Baltimore, Md.
Capt. Paul C. Alaniz, 32, one of the pilots of the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that went down Jan. 26 in Iraq, was fulfilling a lifelong dream. "He wanted to be a helicopter pilot more than anyone else I'd ever known," said Olympia Reeves, a former co-worker who now is a library associate at Texas A&M University. "He was very focused, honest and confident. He believed in what the Corps stood for. Not too many people get to do what they want and believe in it so much." Alaniz was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. He is survived by his wife, Thelma, and an 18-month-old daughter, Yvette, both of San Diego. He joined the military in June 1996, and this was his second tour of duty in Iraq. Alaniz is survived by his wife, Thelma; 18-month-old daughter, Yvette, both of San Diego, Calif,; mother, Maria Cynthia Quiroz, of Dumas; sister, Yvette Musik; brothers, Joseph Pizano of Lubbock and Mark Pizano of Houston.
I worked with Capt. Alaniz back when he was a 1st Lt. checking in at HMH-465. From there he did a UDP in Okinawa and later with HMM-163(Rein) 13th MEU and then HMH-361. From the short time I knew him, Capt. Alaniz was an outstanding officer and pilot. He will be missed but never forgotten.