NEW ORLEANS - “As a squad leader, Cpl. Lovato was in charge of 13 Marines,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Martin, deputy commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Command. “He was assigned a sector to clear that was loaded with enemies in houses, rooms, closets, on roof tops and probably in sewage systems. It was some of the worst types of fighting you can absolutely imagine.”
In 2004, Cpl. Lovato was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lovato’s squad was the first to clear their sector to a designated line of advance. Lovato made his way to an adjacent street upon hearing that a fellow Marine, Travis Desiato, had been gunned down and dragged into a room by an insurgent.
Marines never leave a Marine behind. Whether they are alive, wounded or dead, a Marine is never left behind on the battlefield.
“A lot of Marines envision remaining together on hikes and motivational runs but I think that Sgt. Lovato exemplified and brought the true meaning of that statement to the forefront,” said Sgt. Maj. Bryan Fuller, Combat Logistics Battalion 453 sergeant major. “He truly exemplifies the saying ‘Never leave a Marine behind’.”
Lovato finished his mission and assembled a team of non-commissioned officers to link up with the squad leader of the fallen Marine. Even with the use of tanks and rockets shot into the room through the window, the team was unsuccessful in their efforts to retrieve Desiato.
“Come hell or high water, they were going to get Desiato out of the house or they were going to die trying,” said Martin.
In the room were five to six insurgents waiting for any Marine to come through the door. On the third attempt, the team, led by Lovato, entered the room with grenades and small arms and successfully recovered the body of Desiato.
For his heroic actions, in November 2004, Lovato was awarded the Bronze star.
In 2016, the Department of Defense Valor Award Review Board looked over 464 valor awards that were given since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“They compared the valor award to those given in the Vietnam and Korean War era, looking for inconsistencies,” said Martin. “Lovato was one of 33 service members that was found to be under-awarded.”
Friends and family gathered once again on Nov. 18, 2017, to celebrate his award upgrade to the Silver Star, the 3rd highest military personal-decoration given for valor in combat.
“To be completely honest, I don’t deserve this,” said Marine Corps veteran Sgt. Eubaldo Lovato, a Silver Star recipient. “I didn’t do anything different than what I was trained to do. But I appreciate it and I am going to wear it proudly because the person who does deserve this wasn’t able to make it home. He was a 19-year-old kid from Massachusetts who had just gotten married. I am going to wear this Silver Star for him. He is the one that made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Though Lovato has been out of the Corps for almost 14 years now, his actions are now properly awarded and will never be forgotten.
“Everything you go through in boot camp, and the values they instill in you, shape who you are going to be in the future,” said Lovato. “As soon as you get to the fleet, the comradery and being able to work with different people, being able to take orders and to give orders simultaneously, instills the values that I think every person needs. The values that you receive will build upon the rest of your life.”
In his senior year of high school, Lovato took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and scored very high. A recruiter never contacted him to see if he was interested in joining the military, so he decided to go to the recruiter himself. With such a high ASVAB score Lovato had the ability to join whatever military occupational specialty (MOS) he desired. He chose to join infantry.
Lovato shipped off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in June 2001.
“I was surprised,” said Gary Lovato, father of Eubaldo Lovato. “One day he came home, we were sitting down for dinner, and he said, ‘Mom, Dad, I joined the Marine Corps.’ He was 18 at the time and made his own decisions. I was proud because we come from a family of Marines, but it was kind of surprising.”
Lovato graduated boot camp as a meritorious private first class and went on to Infantry Training Battalion, graduating as a meritorious lance corporal. He had a bright future right from the start. After his MOS school, he checked into his first command, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, as a rifleman.
“As Marines, we promise three things to our communities, to our citizens and to our country,” said Martin. “We promise to make Marines, we promise to win battles, and we promise to return better citizens to our local communities. I think Sgt. Lovato is an absolute superb example of the success that we have had. We made a Marine, we won the battle and now we return a better citizen back to the community.”
Lovato now works in Colorado as a Health and Wellness Coach, helping people reach their goals with meal plans, weight loss plans, and exercise programs specific to every individual.
“To me, anything is accomplishable,” said Lovato with a proud and determined look on his face. “You may fail at it a thousand times, but who cares about failing? The accomplishment is worth more than that. I could fail a thousand times but if I accomplish one thing, that is worth a thousand failures. It doesn’t matter what it is or how impossible people may make it seem, everything is possible you just have to put your mind to it.”