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ANCHORAGE - Lance Cpl. Grant Fraser's passions ranged from rock climbing and scuba diving to acting and piano playing, to fighting the war in Iraq, where the 22-year-old Alaskan and his fellow Marine reservists died in a roadside bombing this week.
"He said there was a reason they were there, that they were doing good things for America," Fraser's mother, Sharon Long, said Thursday at a news conference held in front of a war memorial at an Anchorage park. "He loved what he was doing."
Fraser was among 14 Marine reservists killed Wednesday when their lightly armored vehicle was hurled into a huge fireball in the blast near the city of Haditha in western Iraq. It was the deadliest roadside bombing for U.S. forces in Iraq.
Fraser was assigned to the Echo Company 4th Reconnaissance Battalion and shipped out to Iraq in January in support of the Ohio-based 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines. Before deployment, he remained in his home state, working out of the Marine reserves training center at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage.
"He was a great Marine," said Maj. Beth Ashe, who attended the afternoon gathering at the downtown park. "He was an essential part of our team. Our unit is in mourning."
The family kept comments brief and friends asked reporters to respect their request for privacy.
A lifelong Alaskan, Fraser was described as a fun-loving athlete and entertainer who was extremely proud to be a Marine, especially a Marine-certified combat rescue swimmer.
According to a written statement, he joined the Marine reserves three years ago. "It's not my scholarly time of life," he told his parents when they asked about college plans.
"This is the path Grant chose for himself," his mother said Thursday. "And we stood firmly with that decision."
Still, he was looking forward to returning to Alaska, said his 17-year-old sister, Victoria Fraser.
"He said he couldn't imagine living anywhere else," she said, her voice breaking.
Fraser is the third Alaska-based service member to die in action in the war.
In April, Jerimiah Colt Kinchen of Salcha was killed by an explosion in Al Anbar Province. Kinchen also was 22 years old and assigned to the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion.
In August 2004, a Georgetown, S.C., native based at Elmendorf was killed by a roadside bomb near the northern city of Mosul. Airman 1st Class Carl L. Anderson Jr., 21, was assigned to the 3rd Logistics Readiness Squadron.