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Marine, 19, from Kailua-Kona dies of Afghanistan combat wounds

  • Christopher L. Camero

A 2010 Honokaa High graduate who looked forward to joining the Marine Corps and used physical fitness classes to help him get ready died Friday after being seriously wounded by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on July 6, officials said.

Lance Cpl. Christopher L. Camero, 19, of Kailua-Kona, was conducting combat operations in Helmand province, the Pentagon said today.

Camero was an infantryman with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. He enlisted in the Corps on June 7, 2010, and was on his first combat deployment.

Military officials announced earlier this month that the unit would leave Afghanistan in November or December and not be replaced as part of the initial phase of a U.S. troop drawdown in the country.

Honokaa High and Intermediate School teacher Daphne Honma, who had Camero as a student his senior year, said the news came as a shock.

“You kind of have it in the back of your mind whenever any of your students go, but you just don’t expect to hear that,” she said.

Camero was a “very respectful kid. He was a good student, and he was always smiling. He had a good personality,” Honma said.

Honma teaches physical education, weight training and team sports, and Camero used the classes to help him prepare for basic training, she said. Camero also was on the wrestling team.

Becoming a Marine “was one of his goals when he came into class his senior year,” Honma said. “He had talked to a recruiter and he was really excited.”

“The Marines and sailors of the 1st Marine Division mourn the loss of Lance Cpl. Camero,” his higher command, based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., said in a release. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family.”

Camero’s family could not be reached for comment.

Friends posted the news of Camero’s death on the Internet, saying he had stepped on a homemade bomb while on a patrol, his legs had to be amputated, and that he had been on life support since being wounded.

“Chris passed away a few days ago, and in his honor we held an airsoft match in Kamuela, Hawaii, with a couple of his friends and anyone who wanted to participate,” one Internet poster said.

Camero chronicled his deployment to Afghanistan on his Facebook page, posting photos of himself on a plane as he headed to Germany, a stop in Kyrgyzstan, and arrival in Afghanistan on April 12.

His unit of about 1,000 Marines patrols Nahr-e-saraj district south of Sangin, where some of the heaviest recent fighting has occurred, and north of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.

Camero complained about being stuck on post, and a “reality check! Just got shot at today! Not the best feeling a guy can get in the morning.”

In early June he asked if anybody was getting his mail, and said, “nobody misses me, nobody writes letters to me … ”

On June 23 Camero wrote, “If I knew I had to write a report on what I shot at I wouldn’t have shot anything. At least I get me (sic) combat action ribbon.”

Honma, Camero’s high school teacher, said Camero was among those students who really want to join the military.

“That’s their goal. They really want (to be a part of the military). He really wanted to become a Marine,” Honma said. “He wanted to be part of the action and everything, so at least they are doing what they enjoy doing. At the same time, I always tell them that I’m honored and that I appreciate the fact that they are willing to go over there and sacrifice themselves for our country and our freedom.”

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