Marine Corps Veteran Diego D. Pongo is today's Veteran of the day.

Today’s #VeteranOftheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Diego D. Pongo, a Raider who was killed in action fighting ISIS in Iraq.

Diego Pongo enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004 and earned the rank of private first class upon graduating from training. By 2006, he promoted to corporal, and after completing sniper training in 2008, he became a sniper team leader. Pongo deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and promoted to sergeant before attending training to become a Marine Special Operations Command operator. As a Raider, he served as the regional operations chief and attained the rank of gunnery sergeant.

In Iraq, Pongo was a teacher, assisting the Iraqi Security Forces through tactical training. He simultaneously lead his own unit, Marine Special Operations Team 8232.

Not only was Pongo a teacher, but he was also a scholar. At the time of his death, he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business entrepreneurship and was trilingual.

In 2017, Pongo met fellow Marine and future-girlfriend Kelsey Baker. In an article in the New York Times, Baker wrote, “Diego struck a rare balance of tenderness and toughness.”

Pongo and Capt. Moises Navas, a fellow Marine Raider, died during a battle with ISIS fighters in the hills of Iraq March 8, 2020. Thousands of Californians lined the streets of Pongo’s hometown of Simi Valley to pay their respects. On Aug. 20, Pongo was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Writer: Jarrett Dodson

Editor: Jacob Reis

Fact checker: Latesha Thornhill

Graphic artist: Chalsi Lee

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Published on Jan. 28, 2021

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

Views to date: 221

One Comment

  1. Senior Veterans Care Network January 28, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    We honor the service of Diego Pongo.

Comments are closed.

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