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By Steve Mraz, Stars and StripesRead more about Army Corporal Luis E. Tejeda at Military Times and visit Corporal Luis E. Tejeda's Guest Book.
Mideast edition, Friday, October 13, 2006
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — The unanswered roll call. The firing of volleys. The playing of taps.
Once again, those somber sounds fell upon the Baumholder community.
On Thursday afternoon, the tight-knit community that is home to the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team bid farewell to Army Cpl. Luis E. Tejeda in a memorial ceremony.
Tejeda, a Bradley fighting vehicle driver with the Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, died Sept. 30 from injuries received during a roadside bomb blast in Hit, Iraq.
The native of Lynwood, Calif., passed away almost a month before he turned 21.
Known as “TJ,” Tejeda will be remembered for his infectious smile, his friends said. Pfc. Dannie C. Cooper, a one-time roommate of Tejeda, expressed condolences to the fallen soldier’s family.
“His youth, his love of life, his laughter and smile were taken from them, from us — his friends, his comrades,” Cooper said. “TJ will always be missed and remembered as a hero and a friend.”
While living together, Cooper and Tejeda would often talk fondly about their families and going home.
“He wanted to go back home to California,” Cooper said. “TJ, you’re finally home.”
A roadside bomb struck Tejeda’s Bradley while he was traveling to relieve fellow soldiers at a checkpoint. The mission Tejeda was on gave Iraqi and American forces the opportunity to search for weapons, contraband and insurgents.
The enemy targets Bradley fighting vehicles because they know what the armored machine can do in battle, said Cpt. Tony L. Thornton, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, rear detachment commander.
“I honor Corporal Tejeda for his competence and courage to drive and be responsible for such a target,” Thornton said. “On 30 September 2006, Corporal Tejeda paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country, his unit and his brothers-in-arms.”
Tejeda was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He is survived by his wife, Alondra, and his parents, Sergio Zuniga and Liliana Tejeda.
Baumholder has held about a dozen memorial ceremonies this year as its soldiers have been serving in Iraq, and the Baumholder soldiers are nearing the end of their deployment. Maj. Jeanine White, 2nd Brigade rear detachment commander, spoke directly to the community that has had to deal with the losses this year.
Corporal Luis E. Tejeda with his mother.
“Our soldiers are a remarkable lot,” she said. “… We must continue to be strong until they are safely home.”
© 2006 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.
|Corporal Luis E. Tejeda with his grandfather.|
|Corporal Luis E. Tejeda with his grandmother.|
One of the survivors puts it this way, 'Mikey looked death in the face that day and said, 'You cannot take my brothers, I will go in their stead.'
— President Bush, Medal of Honor ceremony
On the last day of his life, on a rooftop in Ramadi, Monsoor was assigned to protect three SEAL snipers. When a grenade lobbed from the street bounced off his chest, he yelled, "Grenade!" and pounced on it even though he had a clear path of escape.
He was a volunteer gardener at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood, where he is now buried.
Patriotism was important to him, and his decision to enlist set him apart from many of his classmates, his sister said.
"It's not a very popular thing to do in the Malibu area," she said.
She and her father say the war that Ayres told them about was drastically different from the war being described by what they call a biased media. Ayres relayed stories of a country where U.S. troops are building schools and Iraqis are receiving improved medical care.
He grew to admire the Iraqis.
Stationed in Mosul during the first of two tours in Iraq, Ayres reported that the streets were growing so safe that he could go out and play with the neighborhood children. His father began sending him cartons of stuffed toys and dolls for the children, along with DVDs and beef jerky for his son. The children nicknamed him "Soldier Bobby."
Ayres' mother, Michelle Ayres of Los Osos, Calif., said he inspired her to join the California Army National Guard. She was sworn in a few weeks after he died and wants to serve in Iraq as a psychiatric nurse.
She wonders if her son enlisted in part because he was a twin: "He was always compared to his twin, and it doesn't matter if you're in different classes, and look totally different. In the Army, Robert was his own person."
After Ayres' death, his sister received an e-mail from Chris Sanders, one of her brother's friends who also is serving in Iraq.
"I did talk to some of the guys who were there when he was hit," Sanders wrote. "When they started taking heavy fire, he pushed his men into the doorway of a house and spun around to return fire, to cover his troops as they moved.
"That's when he was hit. He died protecting the men he led. That's the way any real infantryman can hope to die. To me, that wasn't abnormal for Bob. He put his men's life before his own, all the time."
Thank you for this blog.Thank you Carlos Maguina. For loving your friend Joselito O. Villanueva and his family, for remembering him and them for us.
Lito (as he was known to his friends and family) went to bootcamp in 1986 at 18 years of age, joining as a reservist. In 1993, he opted to go active duty. His whole adult life was the Army. It was almost inevitable. I never met anyone more into the military than Lito. We became friends in junior high school, and remained so. He was just a plain ole good guy, and doing right just came naturally to him. Laughing was his legacy, but he was a serious guy behind that cheerful personality, and every now and then we waxed philosophically about life and women. Like most of us, he looked forward to the day where he could marry and start a family. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect Lito was in love with someone or other pretty much throughout his life. His heart was that big.
He's missed by his friends and family. He was part of a big group of friends who respected and cared for him. He was the confidant of more than one of them, I know. His family, naturally, was deeply affected by his loss. You cannot walk into their home without remembering Lito. He loved life as much as the next guy. He enjoyed it more than most. Yet he put his life on the line for his men and his country, and if anyone of us didn't know it while he was alive, we all soon learned that he was the best among us. His death hit all of us hard, and the sadness we felt was tempered if only a little by the pride we have in him.
He had the right values and the convictions to see them through. A man died in his thirties, full of life, love, and dreams for the future, and so his death seems a bit tragic. Yet I have never mourned for my friend the way others do. He chose the Army, he chose to serve during war and there was no way he wasn't going to be there with his men. He died a warrior's death living a good man's life. He will forever be the best among us, for none of us could ever surpass the life he lived.
From his old friend,
Carlos Maguina (SSGT, USMC Reserves, 1986-1995)
Villanueva, a former Los Angeles resident, was killed by a sniper Monday during an ambush in Balad, Iraq. He was posthumously awarded a second Purple Heart and a Bronze Star to add to his other commendations, including two National Defense medals, four good conduct medals and four Army achievement medals.Read the entire LA Times article about Army Sergeant 1st Class Joselito O. Villanueva here and read more here and here.
[1st Sgt. David L.] Morgan said the officer known as "Sgt. V" was part of another convoy conducting a routine patrol about 8:30 a.m. when an Iraqi national was erratically driving his truck, which rolled over. When Villanueva and others stopped to assist, they were fired upon. Only Villanueva was hit.
In a telephone interview from the battalion's home base in Schweinfurt, Germany, Morgan said news of Villanueva's death was difficult to take.
"I kind of treat them all like my sons. You get a bond, a friendship, a trust. When you lose one of your own, it hits you very hard," said Morgan, who is wrapping up a two-week leave before shipping out Monday morning for a return trip to Iraq. "I had to go out walking for a couple of hours. I had to cool off."
Villanueva, 36, was a combat engineer whose job involved working with an armored division to defuse explosives, set up mine fields and use munitions to tear down obstacles to troop advancement. Villanueva joined the Army in April 1993 and began his Iraq tour in February.
"He was well-trained and believed deeply in what he was doing," said Sgt. Michael Anderson of Ft. Schweinfurt, who once served under Villanueva. "He was always there for his solders and his friends."
Morgan said a "ramp ceremony" was staged last week by those in Villanueva's platoon -- half a dozen carried his casket into a transport plane while other members saluted or presented arms. A formal ceremony, with full military honors, will be held on base Thursday, he said.
Villanueva, who was not married, will be buried in Southern California. He is survived by his parents, Edito and Pilarita Villanueva of Van Nuys.
Family and friends said he had been alert and appeared to be doing well, but his condition took a turn for the worse a few days ago.
"Everyone is just stunned," said Jean Carey, a neighbor and longtime family friend. "We really thought he was going to make it."
But Mathew Taylor did, because he wanted to honor his late father, Richard, an Army veteran who died in a car accident in 2003, the year before he graduated from Ponderosa High School.
Boyles, who would have turned 25 this week, had been looking forward to seeing his wife and new child on a two-week leave beginning Oct. 19.Read the whole LA Times article about Lance Corporal Aaron Boyles here with more here; find memories and messages here and here.
Military officials, however, suddenly canceled the leave, his wife said. "All he said was they had a special mission and couldn't come home this time," she said.
Boyles couldn't stop talking in phone calls and wrote letters home about the impending birth of his son, whom the couple had already named Brandon.
"He was excited about it all the time," his wife said. "He wanted to teach him to play football and basketball and to play catch. He wanted to be a good dad."
"When he joined the Marine Corps, he found his place," his sister said. "It totally changed him. He became a man, with bigger responsibilities than he had ever had."
Boyles and his wife were married July 4, 2003. "He chose that day because it's patriotic," she said. "He always put the flag out and talked about how he loved this country."
In addition to his wife and sister, Boyles is survived by his mother, Wanda Kealaiki, and stepfather, Alex Gallardo, of Newark, Calif.; another sister, Angel Boyles; two brothers, Ademir Gallardo and Andrew Gallardo; and a 5-year-old son, Derrick Boyles, from another relationship.
While filming her reality show an abusive scumbag screamed out, “Your mother’s a whore!”
Bristol’s reaction? With poise beyond her years, she confronts the 47 year-old loser and calmly asks him to explain his hatred. The 47 year-old loser’s response? More hate and verbal attacks.No, not the homosexual gentlemen, they're no family. The amazing family is the Palin family.
Meet the Left…
PALIN: “Alright, is it because you’re a homosexual?”
MAN: “Pretty much. And why’d you say I’m a homosexual?”
PALIN: “Because I can tell you are. This is your boyfriend. And that’s why you don’t like my mom.
MAN: “No, that’s not why I don’t like your mom. Your mom is evil.”
And yet no examples. Just hate and bullying.
Between stalker/liar Joe McGinniss and this kind of stuff which is non-stop, I don’t know how the Palins keep on keeping on. I would either say to hell with it and retire to my DVD collection and out of the spotlight or be in jail after pleading guilty to multiple counts of unbridled violence.
John Carillo’s mother said he was a smart, avid reader who grew up fast as he entered fatherhood at 16.
As a student at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., he met an Army recruiter who pushed the 20-year-old to fulfill a lifelong goal of serving in the military.
“He thought this was going to help his family a little faster. It was a way to support his wife and his child,” his mother, Desiree Carillo, told the Stockton Record. “I was very proud of him when he decided to go into the military.”
Carillo died Sept. 24 in Fallujah, Iraq, after being injured a day earlier in a non-combat related incident.
He is survived by his children and his wife, Reylene; his mother and father, Desiree and John Carillo Sr.; and three younger siblings.
“He was always there for his family. He was a good son, a good father, a good brother and a good husband. I will never get to see that again. He was a good friend to many people,” Desiree Carillo said.
The 34-year-old Fallbrook resident died Sept. 22 in the Iraqi capital after a homemade bomb detonated near his armored personnel carrier. Sonoda was the only soldier killed in the explosion.Read the entire LA Times article about Army National Guard Sergeant Mike T. Sonoda Jr. here and read about the award of the Hawaii Medal of Honor here.
"He was my big brother and my hero.... Our entire family is so proud of his service," said Sonoda's sister, Irene, describing her brother in a statement as "very caring and generous, inquisitive and dedicated."
It was the third military assignment for Sonoda, who joined the Army in 1995 and served until late 1997 as a parachute rigger in the 325th Airborne in Vicenza, Italy.
He later served in the California Army National Guard, joining up two days before terrorists flew airliners into the Pentagon and New York City's World Trade Center. He served in Kuwait until March 2002.
His first deployment to Iraq began in January, and he was due to rotate back to the United States early next year.
Sonoda, who was described by his military buddies as a "computer geek," worked as a hazardous materials inspector for the U.S. Postal Service.
In an Internet tribute to Sonoda, his comrades in arms said he loved three things: "to smoke, sometimes like a train; read sci-fi books; and he loved Japanese cartoons."
"He didn't deserve to die," the tribute added, "and he especially didn't deserve to die like this."
Sonoda is survived by his parents, Mike Sr. and Emiko, and his sister.
Peggy Noonan had her thousand points of light. Sarah Palin needs only six.
Sarah Palin has not spent one campaign dollar and she is within 5 points of ObamaRx? The crazy Cajun was right – Dems should be in panic mode.Liking that ObamaRx. Heh.
A patriot, an avid reader and a political conservative who wrote on his Internet blog that he wanted to talk to all open-minded people, even "libs," Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Brian Dunlap, 34, was killed Sept. 24 by a roadside bomb near Baghdad.Read the entire article about Marine Reserve Sergeant Brian E. Dunlap here and find Brian Enrique Dunlap's Blog here.
Dunlap joined the Marines twice: once as a 20-year-old trying to grow up, his parents said, and again in his 30s as a reservist attached to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Corps Reserve in Los Alamitos.
He loved the Marines, and got back in partly because he figured that, being single, he should do his part rather than let his friends who had wives and children take all the risk, said his father, Dexter Dunlap of Carmichael, Calif.
Brian Dunlap was deployed on Father's Day last June, and hit the ground in Iraq in August. In the Marine Corps, he worked as a weapons specialist. He had been helping to train members of the Iraqi army, and hoped that his work would enable U.S. soldiers to come home sooner. "He joined the Marines and, basically, that was his life from then on," his father said.
In a lot of ways, he was like his Dad: they shared a blog, they both loved history and they traded books. He was the kind of guy who made friends for a lifetime, his mother said. He loved music, from Mozart to Iron Maiden, and he learned to surf while living near Oceanside and San Diego.
Capt. Bruno de Solenni, R.I.P.Do read the entire letter here.
September 23, 2008 2:41 P.M.
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
A brother of a friend of mine (Pia) was killed by an IED in Afghanistan this weekend, along with two Afghan interpreters. A fellow soldier was injured. I was just reading a letter Bruno’s hometown paper published before he died; what he has to say and who he was and what he sacrificed and the grief his family suffers are reminders of the tremendous burden so few of us bear for freedom:
The bad days are when you put your buddy in a body bag and you don’t even recognize him because his limbs are missing and there holes in him everywhere. The miracles are when his last words are, “tell my wife and kids I love them,” before he dies in his best friend’s arms after struggling for several agonizing minutes to get the words out because there is a fist-size hole in his head.
And last but not least, the best days are when an Afghan comes up to you thanking you for everything that you have done to help them and for making their (home) a better place now that the Taliban are gone.
If anything, this is probably the biggest reason why I proudly enjoy being over here. I can’t explain it to anyone and there is no description of what it feels like, but it was the same feeling I got when I was in Iraq as well. And I am sure it’s the same feeling that generations of American soldiers before me have gotten as they fought and sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy today.
A friend of his who survived the blast writes: “What do you say about Bruno? He was everything in a person I wish I was. Smart, kind and steel core that made him the best Officer on our team. He loved the Afghans and in combat never was there a better Operator or Leader. The man was absolutely fearless.”In addition to his parents and twin, he is survived by another brother, Gino; and a sister, Pia Conway.
It seems as if Darrik Benson, 28, had always wanted to be a Navy SEAL.
There was no real logic to it. His father was not a military man. His grandfather was, but he was a pilot, serving with the Army during World War II. Benson grew up inland in Angwin, a small community at the northern end of the Napa Valley.
He also hated the water.
His grandmother remembers seeing the boy standing beside her backyard pool when he was 4 years old. He just stared at the other kids, she said, unwilling to take a dip. "He didn't want to get in over his belly button," Claudia Benson said.
So she threw him in.
Pretty soon, he learned to swim. Then he got his plastic SEAL action figures, and it was all over.
Years later, after he had graduated from St. Helena High School in 2001 and joined the Navy, buddies asked Benson where he had learned to swim so well.
"My grandma taught me," he said. It was their joke.
Benson had talked his best friend, Dylan McDaniel — the one who fixed cars with him and took his sister to the prom — into joining the Navy too.
They enlisted through the Navy's buddy program, which kept them together during basic training in Great Lakes, Ill., and further training in Pensacola, Fla. McDaniel didn't want to be a SEAL, though, so in 2002 they parted ways.
Benson was one of 19 SEALs to graduate from a class of about 140, his grandmother said. She was there to see the graduation in Coronado.
Benson, a Navy special warfare operator petty officer 1st class, did not talk much about his work, his grandmother said. Like other SEALs, he learned to keep his job to himself.
"Isn't it kind of tough?" his grandmother would ask. Benson would shrug off the deployments, the fear, the uncertainty, saying only, "It's not so bad."
Before long, Benson met Kara Nakamura, who would become his girlfriend, in San Diego. Two and a half years ago the couple had a son, Landon. They settled in Virginia, where Benson was based.
After that, "he was more afraid going overseas, what might happen," his grandmother said.
Benson came home on leave last year from a deployment to Afghanistan and spent time with his family. He got his commercial pilot's instrument rating and talked to his father, Fred Benson, about his hope of becoming a flight instructor.
His plan was to reenlist for four more years, then leave the military, said the elder Benson, an administrator in a convalescent home.
In June, when Darrik Benson headed back to Afghanistan, he carried one of Landon's toy airplanes with him, as he always did, tucked in his pack.
On Aug. 6 Benson was among 30 U.S. service members, including many SEALs, who died when their Chinook helicopter was shot down over Wardak province.
Among items recovered in the wreckage was a small plastic airplane.
Dylan McDaniel heard the news while deployed aboard the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan. Soon after, he switched his Facebook profile picture to an old black-and-white snapshot of himself with Benson. The friends are arm-in-arm, both sporting reflective shades.
Benson's father flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the arrival of his son's casket, along with those of others killed in the helicopter crash.
Navy Seal Darrik C. Benson with his father and his grandfather.
There were dignitaries seated near him, and some SEALs. To Fred Benson, it all seemed unreal. "You just get numb after a while," he said. "It's just so many people. So much pain."
Benson had wanted to be buried in a military cemetery, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. His father will follow his wishes. He has never been there, but looked it up online.
"It's a beautiful place," he said.
Benson's funeral is set for Monday in Coronado. His family has planned a memorial service in Angwin in November, when the rest of his SEAL team is scheduled to return.
A 22-year-old Army specialist from Novato was one of three soldiers killed by a bomb in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, the Pentagon said today.
Spc. Nicholas P. Olson died Tuesday after an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations, the Defense Department said. No additional details about the incident were released.
He is survived by his wife and 10-month-old child, said assistant principal Dan Curtaz of Novato High School, which Olson attended when he lived in Marin.
Olson graduated from San Marin High School, a continuation school, after attending Novato High, Curtaz said. Curtaz taught physical education at the time and remembered Olson as a "good kid."
Olson enlisted in the Army in October 2004 and was assigned to the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, known as the Stryker Brigade Combat team, out of Fort Lewis, Wash.
He was decorated with the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
Also killed in the explosion were Spc. Joseph N. Landry III, 23, of Pensacola, Fla., and Spc. Donald E. Valentine III, 21, of Orange Park, Fla.
-- From the San Francisco ChronicleRead more about Army Specialist Nicholas P. Olson here, here and here.