Marine was looking forward to camping trip |

Marine was looking forward to camping trip

Special to the Daily

GYPSUM ” Oscar Lagos was looking forward to another camping trip with his best friend. He didn’t get the chance to go.

Lagos’ best friend was Evenor Herrera, a 2001 Eagle Valley High School graduate who had joined the U.S. Marines right out of high school. Herrera was killed fighting in Iraq Wednesday.

“He called last week and left a message that he was coming home in about three weeks,” Lagos said. “He wanted to go camping.”

Camping was high on the fun list for Lagos, Herrera and their other friends. But, with the Rocky Mountains as a playground, there was always plenty to do.

“We’d go four-wheeling, or cliff jumping at Sweetwater,” Lagos said.

When not outside, the friends would play video games or go to movies. “We’d go all the way to Vail for movies,” Lagos said.

Other times, the friends would go out shooting. “I remember the first time,” Lagos said. “He’d just gotten a .22 and we took it out.”

While Herrera loved action, he wasn’t loud about it. Other friends, former classmates and people at Eagle Valley High School remember Herrera as soft-spoken, helpful and generally a nice guy.

“The staff members I’ve talked to all talked about him as being such a nice kid,” Eagle Valley High School Principal Mark Strakbein said. “They say he was well-mannered, quiet, just a great kid.”

Eagle Valley athletic director and activities director Dave Scott said Herrera was quiet, focused and a good student. He came back to visit teachers last year.

“He was a good student, fit right in. He was a very good role model for our Hispanic population, a great kid,” Scott said.

While he was a student, Herrera was known as someone who’d lend a hand to just about anyone in need.

“He’d try to help anyone he could,” said Sonia Jimenez, who went to school with Herrera. “He had an amazing attitude. I never saw him mad at anyone.”

Herrera was happy to help in and out of school. When his friend and classmate Juliette Romagnoli joined the army in 2003, he gave her tips about the military.

“He was a really nice guy,” she said. “He had a lot of friends.”

And he was a proud Marine.

Paula Hayes, who’s been at the front desk at Eagle Valley High for several years, said Herrera and his younger brother Balmore, also a Marine, stopped by the school to visit last year.

“They came by in their uniforms, and you could tell how proud they were,” Hayes said. “You could see they had a real belief in what they were doing.”

That belief carried over to his job in Iraq, Lagos said.

“He was happy to be out there,” he said. “He liked his job. He would have hated to be stuck over here while there was fighting going on.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado

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