Video: Wrong Marine reported killed

NBC News and news services
updated 1/13/2010 6:25:47 AM ET 2010-01-13T11:25:47

A Marine identified Monday as killed in action said he was pretty sure the Pentagon had made a mistake. A few hours later, the Pentagon agreed.

The Department of Defense announced Mark A. Juarez, 22, of Bakersfield, Calif., had been killed Saturday in Afghanistan. The news release named his battalion, regiment, division, assignment and his base, according to NBC News affiliates in his hometown and in Hawaii, where he is now based.

Lance Cpl. Mark A. Juarez had recently returned from Afghanistan and had visited family in California on his way back, Honolulu's KHNL reported.

However, some of his relatives were still worried.

"One of my aunts called me at first and then from that point, five minutes later, 10 people called me to see if I was OK or alive or something," he told KHNL.

The military had in fact made an in-person notification Sunday at the home of the Texas Marine who was the real victim of the Afghan firefight — Mark D. Juarez, 23, the station said.

The Department of Defense said the wrong file had accidentally been pulled.

''They should really be more careful," Juarez told Bakersfield's KGET. ''Mixups like that can cause a lot of family grief.''

It could be especially cruel, he said, for families whose loved one has been killed. ''It might give them false hope,'' Juarez said. ''If, all of a sudden, it was aired that it might not be their son, they shouldn’t have to go through that.''

Early Monday afternoon, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement about Bakersfield’s Juarez, ''We will never forget his loyalty to this country and are forever grateful for his service. Together, we send our thoughts and prayers to Mark's family, friends and fellow Marines. Our hearts are with them during this difficult time.''

Later, his office issued a corrected statement, redirecting his condolences to the family in Texas, KGET reported.

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