Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Sgt. Duane R. Rios

25, of Griffith, Indiana.
Killed during a firefight in central Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California. Died on April 4, 2003.

Pictured with his wife, Erica

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Marine Sgt. Duane R. Rios.


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Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

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"Rios was a very close friend of mine and served with him for a couple years. Think about you all the time bud."
Wellman of youngstown

"Sgt Rios, it is Memorial Day 2021. You are on my mind often brother, you are missed. Semper Fi"
Sgt. Bell of Pasadena, Texas

"Duane made an impact on each person he met. Our Mother's were best friends and for many years, Duane and John practically lived with us. Even after all these years, Duane is still thought of, loved and missed. John & Jasmine, please know that you are in my thoughts always. We love and miss you all. Thank you Duane for helping protect all of our futures by making the ultimate Sacrifice. Love Always, Mary"
Mary Pyle of Hammond

"Although many years have passed, you are remembered often. On the 240th birthday and every day in between, you are missed. Semper Fi Brother until we meet again."
SGT Chris McKinney (Skinny) of Clover, SC

"It's now been 10 years...no one has forgotten...and no one ever will...i miss you still after all this time but i take comfort in the fact that i know you're there to help jeff settle in up there...he always looked up to you duane...now he can see you anytime he wants...and one day i'll get to see both of you again...love ya always..."
T of Griffith IN

"Duane was my son-in-law. It will soon be 10 years that he was taken from us and it seems as if it were yesterday. They say that only the good die young and I am beginning to believe that is true. He is in Gods care now and that is the only comfort that my family has in this tragedy. Duane will NEVER BE FORGOTTEN! I loved him as if he was my own,he was family. Semper Fi ! 2-9-13 Batusicb2359@live.com"
Brenda Batusic of Kouts,Indiana

"thinking about you all the time Duane"
jasmine - sister of gary

"Saw you last in 2002..Less than a year later, you were gone. I learned much from you in the Corps..Rest well in heaven Marine, you've already done your time in hell!"
Jason R of Sacramento, CA

"Sgt. Duane Rios was cremated, but you can pay your respects at the Griffith Memorial on Broad St., Griffith, IN next to the WWII Tank."
Mary Rios of Griffith, IN

JASMINE sister of gary

"This is my brother Duane i only met him when i was real little i wish he was still here so i can know much more about him it hurts when i bearly even kno my brother i really love him. he is in my heart always. Dont worry i love you duane. <3"
jasmine washington of gary indiana



"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to the hero’s Mother, Father and/or spouse. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Almost 2,100 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
This is a gift! We have wonderful sponsors who help with the costs, and want you know that everyone here at Project Compassion does and will always CARE.
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"To anyone that can help. I served with Duane and am going to be traveling to Indiana soon, I would like to visit Duane's grave site. I am also trying to track down Erica to see how she is doing. If anyone can help please E-mail me at Hardcore1371@yahoo.com Semper Fi."
Daniel R. Porter of Arvada, CO

"I have a cross stich memorial that I would like to give to any member of Duane's family, if they can contact me. Jan Nichols, nicholsjan@hotmail.com"
Jan of Dyer, IN

"my boy friend SGT.WADE was there as well and very close to him. we would love to go and see his site. if some one could help us out please do ..thank you"
smith of lafayette,in

"i been trying to figure out where duane was buried at, i was a fellow hoosier who served with duane during the invasion in bravo 1st and been wanting to see his burial site, thanks"
of Lafayette, IN

"I knew Duane for the two short weeks that we spent in Corporals course together. Duane is the kind of Marine that everyone is proud to have on their side. Always cheerful, respectful, and ready to get the job done. My heart aches for the Rios family."
Cpl, Aaron L. Smith of Chicago IL

"January 1, 2008
To the family of Sgt. Duane R. Rios:
Duane gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Family and friends of Sgt Rios,
I was a corpsman assigned to 1st CEB. I knew Sgt Rios before he left to Japan and when he returned to CEB I remember checking him in and briefly talking with him. I deployed with the unit and upon our return I heard the bad news. I remember having a heavy feeling inside, thinking that I had just spoken with him and now that would never happen again. Time to time I find myself remembering him and my days with Division..For all my brother and sisters serving in harms way..I wish you all the very best and the safest journey home..."
HM2 Hutasangkas, T.M. of Atsugi, Japan

I would like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy. You are the epitome of what a Marine NCO should be-despite the risks to your own life-you provided covering fire for your fellow Marines on that Track-that says it all about the type of man you are.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!"

"We're coming up on 4 years and sometimes a wave of sadness hits me and reminds me you're gone. We all loved you and we all miss you. Things change, people change and groups of friends fade but you were a friend to all of us and will forever live on in our hearts. Thank you for being you, until we meet again."
T Babies of Griffith, IN 46319

"I was a young PFC assigned to Sgt. Rios's squad. I was in the vehichle with him when he was hit. Although the rest of us were protected in the back of the vehichle, Sgt. Rios risked his life by exposing his body and providing cover fire for the left side of the vehichle. I only knew him for a couple of months, but looked up to him. He was the kind of leader you would follow anywhere. To his family, I'm so sorry for your loss. It was a great loss for us as well."
Sgt. Curtis Hice of Tullahoma, TN

"To the family of:Duane R Rios I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"Duane, I know it has been a long time since you passed, but I think of you and Erica often. I remember the crazy times working at Tim's. I also remember the times we talked of our future. You took the path you said you would, yet paid the ultimate price. I miss you brother...God bless"
Rick Drinski of Hebron, In

"Thank You
by Lily Michaels, 2003

I can't shake every hand.
I can't put flowers on every grave.
I can't console every family member.
But I can say thank you.

You have given me the freedom I enjoy today.
Your blood was shed in place of mine.
Your family grieved so mine could rejoice.
All I can say is thank you.

There are not words big enough.
There is not a hug strong enough.
There is not a smile wide enough.
All I can offer is thank you.

You are my hero.
You are in my thoughts.
You are in my prayers.
For all you've done, thank you.

Duane R. Rios was a true hero who will not be forgotton. God bless his loved ones."
Judy D of Anderson, IN

"It was a honor knowing SGT. Rios while I served in the Marines. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. I met him in Engineer school in Camp Legeune and went on to Camp Pendleton with him. He will be greatly missed. SEMPER FI!!!!"
Jay Cardoza of Edinburg TX

".... before duane was a marine , he was a "hog" .. we all grew up together and anyone that new rios, new he was the bravest one amongst us. He protected us, and he was there anytime someone was in trouble.. all u had to say was" im gonna call duane" .. on the other end of the spectrum duane was the most hilarious person i have ever had the honor to observe for a night. Our hearts go out to Jon .. he's the toughest kid i know. As he watched over us in life .. he will assume the enternal watch, until we all meet again. "hogs forever" peace"

"Erica, I think of you often & am so sad for you. I pray that you have found comfort in the care of those who love you."
Nancy Clancy of Oceanside, CA

"Hi, I'm Tizauhnna Murray, Duanes cousin and I miss him everyday. I loved him so much. All I know is that he is i a better place. It may have been to soon, but we will all be there soon to see him, and to congraulate him on how brave and mighty he was. I will always keep you in my prayers Erica. I looked at the website and I truly liked it. Duane was different, he was full of life and he is a wonderful person. I love and miss him so much. I havent met you but I would like to know the wife of my cousin. If you were wondering more on who I am well I am his moms niece, My mom is Beth Mayfield and Bobbie is her sister. We all think about him everyday and we pray. I think that I will end this know. I will stay in touch with you Erica. If you want to you can call me 812-437-1933. Im home sometimes, if Im not home then talk to my mother. I know that she would love to hear from you. I love You and God BLess!!"
Tizauhnna Murray of Evansville, Indiana 47714

"To the family of Sgt Rios; It's taken me quite sometime to write this. Sgt Rios was in my platoon at 1st CEB. He was the finest NCO I've ever had. When it came time to accomplish a task, I could always rely on his squad to get it done. He was always on top of everthing, and a true leader of Marines. I am still greatly upset with his passing. It's been almost 2 yrs since we left Iraq, and I still think about the times we had predeployment and in Kuwait. From running around San Clemente together, trying to get our nametapes sewn on our cammies at the last minute, to Pt'ing in the Kuwait heat. I felt safe rolling into Iraq, knowing that his knowledge and devotion was there with us. I know words can't heal the pain, just know that he is still loved and missed greatly."
SSgt Brill of Ohio

"Duane R. Rios was a great man, i went to high school with him and we hung out with similiar people. i was in Iraq as well when i heard about the incident. It really hurt me knowing that someone from your hometown, your high school has been involved in such a terrible matter. To the family, i'm sorry ONCE A MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE.."

"To the family and friends of Duane R. Rios. My condolences to you. I am currently in the process of writing a paper on the leadership principals and traits that Sgt. Rios portrayed while he served his country. I will be sharing his accomplishments with my Marines as a role model to emulate. Thank you for serving and God Bless."
Sgt Boyd JQ of Camp Pendleton,Ca

"RIP Marine"
Petty Officer Cawthon of RTC Great Lakes, IL

"To the Rios family, I learned everything I will ever knew about the Marine Corps fron Duane. He was my mentor and I modeled every action on what he taught me. Our loss is great because he was such a great man on or off of work. My thoughts are with you Erica."
Sgt Chris McKinney 1st CEB, C.Co, 1st PLT of Clover, South Carolina

"Sgt. Rios,
I will never forget you man. You were a blast in Oki with Stabo when he introduced me too you. When I heard of your death I was in shock. You will never be forgotten.... Semper Fi and god bless you. Also my prayers are with you Erica as they have been since I was aware of this."
Cpl. Chad Morrison, USMC of Las Vegas, NV

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Duane, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"In Loving Memory..Its been a year..

At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, We remember them.
At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring, We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, We remember them.
At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn, We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends, We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
Rest in Peace Dear Soldier!! We will NEVER FORGET!"
The Grogan Family of Lakeland, TN (4/4/04)

"Sergeant Rios, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"Thank you Duane Rios, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"One of our son's first duties after arriving in Okinawa last summer was to complete the corporals course....his instructor being Sgt. Duane Rios. He credits Sgt. Rios with being one of the best marines he has ever known. Our sympathy goes out to his family."
Lori Kadner of Eldora, Iowa

"Sgt Rios' Wife and Family,
I was the section leader in charge of Duane's AAV that he was riding in when he was wounded. I myself was shot in the arm during that same ambush. Duane was directly responsable for saving the lives of the driver and the crewchief of the vehicle because of his covering fire to the left side. I am so sorry for you loss. I wish there were more I could say to help."
Sgt Bruce Belgarde of 2d AAV BN Camp Lejuene,NC

"Our prayers are with your family during this difficult time. Thank you brave soldier, your courage and sacrafice will never be forgotten."
Ken and Maritza Holley of Pembroke Pines, Florida

"Dear family and friends,

I'm deeply sad for your loss. For I have lost another great hero too, my uncle, Staff Sgt. James W. Cawley. He was also killed in a friendly firefight, and also went to Camp Pendleton. Both of these heros will never be forgotten. May God be with you."
Lindsey Seamons of Allyn, Washington

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Duane Rios:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Duane for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Duane Rios:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Duane, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera, of Powder Springs, Georgia

"Duane you unselfishly gave your life for this country and we appreciate you for that. Erica, you be comforted in knowing that you will see Duane again in heaven."
Rachel of Little Rock, Ark. USA

"Thank you for being so brave. Rest in peace."
A.W. of Hammond, IN

""Go rest high on that mountain. Son your work on Earth is done. Go to Heaven shoutin' love for the Father and the Son" Rest in peace brave soldier. We will never forget you."
Kris of Indiana

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on