OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An Oklahoma Marine who was scheduled to come home next month was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his convoy in Iraq, his mother said Sunday.
Pvt. Nachez Washalanta II died from massive trauma to his lower body, said his mother, Carol Caldwell. He was one of four Marines killed Saturday in Iraq.
Washalanta, 21, had been in the country since February, serving his second tour of duty there.
He attended schools in Ardmore and Silo, Caldwell, of Ardmore, said. After getting his GED, he joined the circus and eventually the Marines, where Washalanta blossomed, Caldwell said.
"He was so proud. It was the first time I ever saw him proud of himself and proud of what he was doing," his mother said. "He went from a scared little boy to a very proud young man."
His convoy was patrolling near Mosul, Iraq, when it drove over a bomb that destroyed the vehicle, Caldwell said. Medics tried in vain to save him, Caldwell said military officials told her on Saturday.
Washalanta joined the Marines after family members talked to him while in the circus, Caldwell said.
She said Washalanta became physically and mentally stronger each time she saw him. She talked to him on the telephone when he left for his second tour.
"The night he got on the plane back in February, I just told him to be careful, and I loved him and to get back home as safe as he could," Caldwell said. "We'd already been through it once so it wasn't quite as hard, but now it's even harder.
"... I wish they could end this mess, it's gone overboard now. I think they've got what they wanted, and they're just dragging it out into a mess now."