A Bothell Marine known for his warm smile and fierce play on the soccer field died Sept. 9 while serving in Afghanistan.
First Lt. Nicholas A. Madrazo, 25, was killed by a roadside bomb while supporting combat operations in the Parwan province of that country, according to members of his family and reports from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Madrazo was on his first combat tour, and was embedded in Afghanistan with four other U.S. Marines who were working with the Afghan National Army and French forces, according to his younger brother Jared, 20.
He was expected home in December.
Those who knew the fallen Marine claim he always had a fascination with soldiering.
“He would dress up in camouflage for Halloween and watch all the usual war movies that guys like,” Jared said.
Neighbor Beth Flansburg had known Madrazo since they were both seven years old. Even then he had a Rambo streak.
“I used to have a tree fort, and I wouldn’t allow Nic inside because I didn’t like him at one point,” Flansburg said. “He and his brothers all put on camouflage and started spying on us.”
The plot was Madrazo’s idea.
“He was always the one who got those games started,” Jared said. “We were definitely all followers of him.”
Madrazo traded spying on Flansburg for companionship with her by the time the two were in middle school.
“He helped me through all my hard girl times,” Flansburg said. “He was a great friend and a great listener who would always make me laugh.
“He always had a smile on his face and wanted to make sure people were happy.”
Madrazo graduated from Bothell High in 2001 and became a Marine officer through Seattle Pacific University’s Navy ROTC program. He volunteered for duty in Afghanistan along with a soldier friend whom he had become close friends with.
“They just thought it was their time to take a turn over there,” Jared said.
Madrazo was traveling in a Humvee when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle and killed him.
Flansburg created a private Facebook page to memorialize her fallen friend. The site had over 104 posts and 112 photos on the day that news of Madrazo’s death became public.
The page also contained three videos, one of which showed Madrazo playing a rough brand of soccer that friends say had become his signature style during competitions.
“He was aggressive, but always kept his smile on the field,” said William Frankhouser, a former Bothell High classmate who shot the footage. “He was the guy who was always friendly and smiling and willing to befriend anyone.”
A memorial service for Madrazo will take place Sept. 20 at the Westminster Chapel church in Bellevue. His family plans to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery.
Jared has followed suit with his brother’s military aspirations, joining the University of California, Santa Barbara Army ROTC program while attending Westmont College.