Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oscar Sauceda Jr. dies of 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire'

U.S. Army Pvt. Oscar Sauceda Jr., the 21-year-old son of Sandra and Ricky Hernandez and the late Oscar Sauceda, was killed in a firefight in Baghdad Tuesday afternoon.

Sauceda, known to his friends and family as “J.R.”, had been in Baghdad since Feb. 23.

A 2004 Del Rio High School graduate, Sauceda had been in the Army about 18 months.

Sauceda’s mother, Sandra, was at work when she was notified by a family member that Army representatives were at her home and needed to speak to her.

When she arrived, her worst fears were realized.

“They told me that at 1 p.m. Tuesday his company engaged fire with enemy units inside of Baghdad and that Oscar had been killed by small arms fire,” Hernandez said Tuesday afternoon.

Surrounded by family, Hernandez remembered her son as a lover of life whose infectious smile could put anyone at ease.

“He was full of love, full of joy, full of adventure. He was always a joker. He always had to have the last word,” Hernandez said. “He would always come to me with anything that troubled him and he would always call to talk. The last time I spoke to him was on Mother’s Day. He called me at four in the morning. He thought it was funny to ask me, ‘What are you doing?’ He was always like that.”

Hernandez said that her son loved his time in the military and was proud to be a soldier.

She said that he had made up his mind to reenlist when his current tour was completed.

“He loved that way of life. Of course I was afraid for him, but I supported him and the choices he made,” Hernandez said.

“When I went to see him off at his deployment Feb. 1, I had a strong fear. He just smiled and didn’t let me see him worry. He told me, ‘Mom, I have to do this. I’ll be back. I’ll be fine.’”

Hernandez said no timetable had been yet set for the return of Sauceda’s body.

She said she would meet with Army representatives today to begin working out the details.

She said they would likely fly his body from Iraq to Germany then to Washington D.C. and then home to Del Rio.

As mourners prepared for a candlelight vigil in Sauceda’s memory, Hernandez said the outpouring of support had been amazing.

“Oscar was very dedicated to his family and friends and to his country. If you needed him, he would be there. If he told you he would do something, he would do it,” Hernandez said.

“I am overwhelmed to see all of these people here today. It showed me how much he meant to everyone and how many people loved him.”

After an emotional day, the Sauceda and Hernandez families, joined by friends, family and mourners, gathered outside of the home for a candlelight vigil and recitation of the Rosary.

As a picture of Sauceda, dressed in his Rams football uniform, reflected the soft glow of the dozens of candles lit in his honor, Hernandez thanked everyone for their support.

“I ask everyone to keep praying for our troops. Don’t ever stop praying. And pray for the Iraqi people. That’s what I was doing,” Hernandez said.

“We support these boys. If your son or daughter joins the military, support them. It’s their job and they do it with a great sense of pride.

“And to everyone who knew J.R., please come and say your goodbyes.”

From the Del Rio News Herald