Fallen Marine 'carried his own weight'

October 21, 2010 4:48:14 AM PDT
Marine Lance Corporal John Sparks, 23, wanted to be a Chicago police officer, according to family and friends. Lance Corporal Sparks grew up in Chicago's Robert Taylor public housing complex- but moved quickly beyond his humble beginnings by joining the Marines, going to college and getting a job as a supervisor at UPS. He surprised his family two years ago when he enlisted. He died serving his country last week in Afghanistan.

The funeral was held Wednesday at Temple Church of God in Christ on the city's South Side. His death weighs heavy on those who loved him.

"For him to be my little cousin, from this day forth he will be my big cousin for the great sacrifice he gave for his country," said Cortez Tucker, Sparks' cousin.

"It's sad. I'm gonna be heartbroken that he's gone he was a good person, very good person," said Dominique Cofield, friend.

Lance Corporal Sparks was killed in Afghanistan just days after he arrived in the country.

"My heart goes out to the family, the troops that are still fighting over there. We continue to pray for them and hope they come back safe," said Tanya Merritt, friend.

Sparks had several nicknames, but many closest to him called him Travis. On Tuesday, Sparks' grandmother spoke with ABC7.

"I just fell apart. It was news that I was not prepared to hear. The bottom dropped out," said Leona Sparks, grandmother.

The Marine is remembered by friends and family as a young man who worked hard, dreamed of becoming a Chicago police officer, and loved his grandmother's cooking. His funeral procession was lead by members of the Illinois Patriot Guard.

"We have lost America's son today. And we feel he needs to be honored and we're here to do that," said Fred Vukadinovic, Patriot Guard rider.

Relatives said Sparks was killed in an ambush, shot in the chest while on a roof. On Wednesday, a fellow Marine said Sparks "carried his own weight and when someone couldn't carry theirs, he would pick it up for them."

Sparks was buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.


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