By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
Marine 1st Lt. Nicholas Madrazo was one of three Americans whose Sept. 9 deaths in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan left three grieving mothers back home in this country.
Madrazo, 25, of Bothell, Wash., was buried Wednesday afternoon with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His mother and other family members dabbed at their eyes as a chaplain conducted a graveside service and a Marine band played "Eternal Father, Strong to Save."
"I'm sure he's in heaven and I can be there someday with him," his mother told KING-TV earlier.
Madrazo graduated from Seattle Pacific University and thought about becoming a firefighter after he left the service.
A similar Arlington service was held a week earlier for Marine Capt. Jesse Melton III, 29, of Randallstown, Md., who also died in the Sept. 9 bomb blast. His mother, dressed all in white, saluted a Marine officer who presented her with a folded American flag from her son's casket.
Melton, a graduate of Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., served one tour in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan in March.
"He said, 'I may not come back home,'" his mother told WBAL-TV. "I kind of cried when he first told me that."
Melton's mother also attended Madrazo's burial Wednesday to lend her support to his tearful family. She stood behind them with her hands on their shoulders during the ceremony.
Services were scheduled this Saturday in Washington state for a third American casualty of the explosion, Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Eichmann Strickland, 23, of Arlington, Wash.
Strickland's goals were to become a physician's assistant and to join a medical mission to Africa.
"He gave his all," his mother told the Everett Herald. "A very quiet boy, never in trouble. He always smiled. He was that kind of person."
Lt. Madrazo, Capt. Melton and Corpsman Strickland are among at least 130 Americans killed so far this year in Afghanistan, eclipsing last year's record total of 117 fatalities.
(AP photo: The parents of Marine 1st Lt. Nicholas Madrazo receive a folded American flag at his burial Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. The mother of Marine Capt. Jesse Melton III stands behind them.)
1. Army Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla.
2. Army Sgt. Wesley Durbin, 26, of Hurst, Texas.
3. Army Lt. Col. Ralph Marino, 46, of Houston, Pa.
4. Army Chaplain (Col.) Sidney Marceaux Jr., 69, of Beaumont, Texas.
5. Army Pfc. Leonard Gulczynski, 19, of Carol Stream, Ill.
6. Army Capt. Darrick Wright, 37, of Nashville, Tenn.
7. Army Sgt. Joshua Harris, 21, of Romeoville, Ill.
8. Army Capt. Bruce Hays, 42, of Cheyenne, Wyo.
9. Army 1st Lt. Mohsin Naqvi, 26, of Newburgh, N.Y.
10. Army Sgt. Jason Vazquez, 24, of Chicago, Ill.
11. Army Lt. Col. James Wiley, 46 of North Bend, Ore.
12. Army Chief Warrant Officer Corry Edwards, 38, of Kennedale, Texas.
13. Army Sgt. Dan Eshbaugh, 43, of Norman, Okla.
14. Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Mason, 37, of Springtown, Texas.
15. Army 1st Sgt. Julio Ordonez, 54, of San Antonio, Texas.
16. Army Chief Warrant Officer Brady Rudolf, 37, of Moore, Okla.
17. Army Cpl. Michael Thompson, 23, of Kingston, Okla.
18. Army Cpt. Robert Vallejo II, 28, of Richland Hills, Texas.
19. Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Farley, 30, of Grand Prairie, Texas.
20. Marine Sgt. Jerome Bell Jr., 29, of Auburn, N.Y.
21. Air Force Maj. Rodolfo Rodriguez, 34, of El Paso, Texas.
22. Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew O'Bryant, 22, of Duluth, Ga.
23. Army Staff Sgt. Nathan Cox, 32, of Walcott, Iowa.
24. Army Pvt. Joseph Gonzales, 18, of Tucson, Ariz.
25. Army Capt. Bruno Desolenni, 32, of Crescent City, Calif.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He also posts stories on the military at www.fieldnotes.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com. The tribute gallery can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22802019/.