Lieutenant Colonel Mario “Sugar Bear” Carazo, USMC, was lost to enemy action in Afghanistan, on July 22, 2010. His AH-1W Cobra was shot down while supporting Marines engaged in a firefight. He was 41 years old.
Born on May 25, 1969 in Inglewood, California, Mario entered the United States Naval Academy where he graduated in 1991, with a B.S. in History, as a member of the 19th Company.
Mario went on to fly the AH-1W Cobra with the World Famous HMLA-369 “Gunfighters” at Camp Pendleton, CA. He did two Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployments, followed by a tour as an instructor at the Fleet Replenishment Squadron. He attended the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, VA, and then went back to Camp Pendleton for another tour as a “Gunfighter”.
“Sugar Bear” attended the United States Naval War College, Newport, RI as a Major, where he received an M.A. in National Security and Strategy. He was not satisfied with one M.A., so he attended the School of Advanced Warfighting in Quantico and received his second in Operational Studies. He took this new found knowledge, and as only he could do, applied it on another deployment – in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in December 2007 and returned from Iraq in August 2008 to Camp Pendleton, becoming the Executive Officer of MAG-39, and ultimately the Commanding Officer of Headquarters Squadron 39. He then deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Mario spent his life focusing on taking care of the people in his life. There was always the “Sugar Bear” smile to pick you up, or the “What’s going on, kid,” to begin a bull session, but there was the certainty that he would do whatever was possible to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone he cared about – his family, both immediate and extended.
Lieutenant Colonel Carazo’s personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star.