Saturday, February 03, 2007

Russell Borea laid to rest

Walking away from the grave site where his younger brother was about to be lowered into the ground, 40-year-old Christopher Michael Borea took off his brother's camouflage U.S. Army jacket.

“I’m not worthy,” he said. “My brother was a better man than me. He’s walking with God now.”
Borea’s brother, Army Sgt. 1st Class Russell P. Borea, died Jan. 19 in the Mosul area of Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat. The 38-year-old Catalina High School graduate was the 24th person with ties to Southern Arizona to be claimed by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than 200 friends and family said good-bye to Borea today at the East Lawn Palms Mortuary and Cemetery in Midtown. Members of the Fort Huachuca honor guard lined the entrance to the chapel where the services were held. Outside, members of the local Patriot Guard held up U.S. flags.

“I can never repay Russell and all the members of our military who have given their lives so that I can walk freely,” family friend Jim Bridges said during the service, urging Borea’s family to hold their heads high and remember him as a hero.

Staff Sgt. Enrique Torres, a member of Borea’s unit at Fort Bliss in Texas, said the lesson Borea taught his fellow soldiers was to appreciate time spent with family. He said his unit members characterized Borea as one of the most knowledgeable army sergeants they’d encountered.

“He will forever be in my heart and part of my greatest memories,” Torres said before walking to the front of the chapel and saluting Borea’s flag-draped coffin.

Fort Huachuca Gen. Carroll Pollett put Borea’s identification tags around the neck of his 10-year-old daughter, Marialena Borea, and then saluted her. Army members presented Borea’s wife, Maria, with her husband’s Bronze Star and a Combat Infantry Badge.

Borea was born in Connecticut and his family moved to Tucson when he was young. His father is deceased and his mother now lives in Las Vegas.

After high school, Borea spent several years in civilian jobs, including a stint as a manager of a local Shakey’s Pizza Parlor. He met his future wife in Tucson and joined the Army shortly before the couple wed in 1995.

Russell and Maria, also known as Nikki, had a home in El Paso near Fort Bliss.

Christopher Michael Borea said his brother gave him his green Army jacket in Las Vegas last year, knowing that he’d be in Iraq for a year.

“I think he knew he wasn’t coming back,” Christopher said. “I’m bitter, but I shouldn’t be. He wanted to serve his country.”

From the Star

Related Link:
Russell P. Borea dies of injuries from I.E.D.