Based: Ft. Campbell, Ky.
1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: October 29, 2010
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany
Hometown: Huntington Park
High School: Huntington Park Senior High (Huntington Park)
Foreign Country of Birth: MexicoBurial: Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside
On his 24th birthday, Army Sgt. Diego A. Solorzano Valdovinos was on patrol near his Afghanistan combat outpost.
Tall and affable, "Sgt. Solo," as he was known, had immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as a boy. He'd recently visited the family home in Huntington Park and spoken about his plans. He wanted to save money and buy a house. And he was going to reenlist.
His mother was anxious, as she was in 2006 when he announced he was joining the Army. "I think he wanted some excitement in his life," Patricia Valdovinos said of her son's determination to become a soldier. "I couldn't do anything. He was old enough."
He grew into a leader, with a keen sense of responsibility for the members of the infantry team of riflemen and grenadiers he led. In his last conversation with his mother, when she urged him to be careful, he replied, "I'm a sheep dog." He said he had to look after his flock of soldiers. "His brothers, he called them," his mother recalled.
Solorzano Valdovinos was newly into his third war zone tour of duty when he set out on patrol Oct. 27 in the Yahya Khel district southeast of Kabul. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Ft. Campbell, Ky.
As his platoon moved down through a ravine, small arms fire began raining down from both sides. Solorzano Valdovinos was hit multiple times, including in the major artery of his thigh. He kept firing and directing his team even though they were pinned down, said Maj. Bradd Schultz, citing a summary of the encounter prepared by Solorzano Valdovinos' commanding officer.
"His only thought," the officer wrote, "was about protecting his fellow soldiers from enemy fire."
"I had no idea he had achieved so much," she said recently. Among several decorations her son received was the Army Commendation Medal, awarded for heroism or significant meritorious service.
Solorzano Valdovinos was buried at Riverside National Cemetery.
In addition to his mother and brother Jesus, his survivors include his brothers Omar Solorzano, 20, a member of the Marine Corps, and Joshua Muralles, 12; a sister, Samantha Muralles, 14; and his stepfather, Cesar Muralles.
Read the entire LA Times article about
Army Sergeant Diego A. Solorzano Valdovinos here.
Find more about Sergeant Solorzano Valdovinos at Special Forces Honor Roll
and at Military Times.