Thursday, February 15, 2007

Leeroy A. Camacho killed in explosion during breaching operations

Saipan -- U.S. Army Specialist Leeroy Apatang Camacho, 27, is the fifth serviceman from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to die in Iraq since the war began in 2003.

Camacho, who has ties to Guam, died Feb. 9, according to his family members living in Kagman, Saipan. One family member said yesterday that Camacho, a member of Bravo Company 1-12, First Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, died in the line of duty.

His death comes less than two weeks after another CNMI serviceman, Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Q. Emul, was killed. Emul died Jan. 29 from wounds he received while conducting combat operations in Al-Anbar province, Iraq, according to the Department of Defense Web site.

Emul was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Ist Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of California.

Camacho's death marks the 16th casualty for servicemen from the Micronesia region, according to Pacific Daily News files.

Tragic news

Camacho's wife, Velma Matagolai Camacho, who is staying in Texas called her father-in-law Saturday to inform him of the tragic news.

"My father was shocked. He thought it was a joke," said Juanette Camacho, Leeroy Camacho's sister and the eldest of 10 siblings.

The soldier's parents are Jose R. Camacho, a retired government employee, and Maria A. Camacho, an employee of Hafadai Beach Hotel.

Leeroy Camacho studied at San Vicente Elementary School and spent two years of middle school in Guam before moving to Hopwood Junior High School in Saipan. He graduated from Marianas High School.

Leeroy Camacho was recruited in Guam to join the military in 2004. He was stationed in Texas after completing basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia.

That same year, he returned to Saipan to marry Velma Matagolai. In 2005, he brought his wife and three sons -- ages 3, 7 and 8 -- to Texas. Camacho was deployed to Iraq in October 2006.

'Loving father'

"He's a very outgoing person. He's a loving father and husband. He's a very good and nice person, especially to family members," Juanette Camacho said. She described her brother as a good Samaritan who would always pull over to give a ride to anyone walking on the streets.

Family members started holding nightly rosary prayers last night at Santa Soledad Church in Kagman. Juanette Camacho said the family has yet to receive confirmation on when his body will arrive. She said Velma Camacho told her yesterday that it could be a week or two before the body returns home.

From the Daily News