Thursday, January 20, 2011

Carla Jane Stewart, Army Reserve, Specialist -- Rest In Peace

Carla Jane Stewart, 37

Army Reserve, Specialist
Based: El Monte
250th Transportation Company
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: January 28, 2007
Tallil, Iraq
Gender: Female
Hometown: Glendale
High School: Herbert Hoover Senior High (Glendale)
Burial: Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Hollywood Hills

The daughter of Armenian immigrants, Stewart grew up with the trappings of privilege in La Canada Flintridge. She attended private schools, spent seven years studying ballet, took riding lessons and spent vacations water skiing and ice skating at her family's second home in Lake Arrowhead.

"Carla had an innately noble nature," said [her mother] Emmy Aprahamian, dressed in black and perched on a sofa in her small Glendale apartment, where the walls are crowded with photos of her daughter and tables piled high with sympathy cards. "Carla loved animals, children, nature.... She was just a sweet soul who cared about doing good for everybody."

At 25, she married Brandon Stewart, a high school friend who had been a buddy of her younger brother, Richard. But 10 years later, estranged from her husband, her old dream of military service resurfaced.

At 35, nearing the cutoff age for enlistment, she joined the Army Reserve, whose soldiers receive combat training and attend weekend drills but can live at home and maintain their civilian careers.

Neither of her parents understood her choice, but they didn't try to dissuade their headstrong daughter

"Even if I had tried to stop her from going, it would have been impossible," her mother said. "I warned her that she might have to go to Iraq. She said, 'Mom, that's OK.' " She was proud to be a soldier, Aprahamian said. "She would say 'Mom, this uniform feels so right.'

Stewart was buried Feb. 10 at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park, Hollywood Hills, after a funeral at the Hall of Liberty that drew hundreds of friends, family members and fellow soldiers. There, her father paid a final tribute to his soldier daughter.

"She surprised the life out of me," said Edmond Babayan, who joined the Marine Corps after he immigrated to the United States at 18. "I thought I was the brave one in the family.... She turned out to be the brave, the tough, the best patriot of all of us.

"My little hero," he called her as he turned and faced his daughter's open casket. Then he said goodbye with a long salute and dropped to his knees.
Read the entire LA Times article about Army Reserve Specialist Carla Jane Stewart here and find more here and here.

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