Sunday, February 04, 2007

William M. Sigua slain by sniper

Even in the middle of the Iraq war, Army Sgt. William M. Sigua of Los Altos Hills spent days trying to find things to do. Above all, he planned what he would do when he got home.

On Wednesday, the 21-year-old infantry squad leader was killed by enemy small-arms fire while on patrol in Bayji, northwest of Baghdad, according to the Department of Defense.

In an interview with the Mercury News Friday night, his mother, Jackie Sigua, said the youngest of her three sons was deeply affected by Sept. 11 and made up his mind then to join the military. "He was a young man who knew his own mind," she said.

And he shared many of those thoughts in letters, e-mails and Web postings.

Though honored to serve in the Army, she said, he was glad his four years of service were coming to an end in the summer. "I'm really looking forward to starting all over again," he wrote in an e-mail to her Sunday. "It's always fun to change your lifestyle a complete 180."

He had hoped to become a personal trainer, possibly attaining a degree in kinesiology at a four-year university.

Earlier, in a statement released to the press, his mother said he "believed he and his unit would make a difference. There is no reason to think he wouldn't. He had an impact on everyone he met and had many friends who looked up to him and will remember him as a hero."

Sigua graduated from Los Altos High in 2003, where he played offensive and defensive line on the varsity football team. An all-around athlete, he also wrestled, ran track and had a passion for rugby.

He never forgot his hometown, exchanging letters with fifth-graders at Santa Rita School in Los Altos that detailed his daily life in Iraq. In one recent letter he explained that in his job, "I could jump out of planes to fight the bad guys."

The children created a banner in Sigua's memory and gave it to his family Thursday, along with a recent letter from the fallen soldier.

On his MySpace page, Sigua had written, "The thing that takes up most of my time is planning for when I get out of this place. What I will do with my newfound freedom. You would be surprised how much freedom you have until it is taken away from you."

Sigua joined the Army right out of high school and was first deployed in September 2004 to bolster security for the Afghanistan elections. He was deployed with his current unit in August.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, N.C.

"In combat, Will always distinguished himself by displaying a level head and laid-back demeanor uncommon for someone his age," said Capt. Timothy Peterman, commander of Company C, in a statement on Sigua's Web site. "He kept his men safe and shared their hardships with them; he was truly an exemplary leader."

In her statement, his mother said, "William was a remarkable son and a dedicated soldier and paratrooper. He had very strong convictions toward his career as a soldier . . . and he strongly believed in our country's mission in Iraq."

On his Web page, Sigua described his interests as working out, eating right, reading and movies.

"Right now I spend most of my day trying to find things to do," he wrote. "I get paid to sleep, read, watch movies, shower, check the Internet, and do whatever the Army tells me to do. . . . Not the most fun lifestyle, but pretty interesting at times."

At the same time, he was aware of the perils he faced. In a November e-mail to his mother, Sigua wrote, "If I do not come back from this deployment, you can tell people that you are proud of me and I of myself."

From the SMC Times