Saturday, June 09, 2007

Iosiwo Uruo laid to rest

In front of mourners tightly packed yesterday in a small church, Agana Heights Mayor Paul McDonald walked up to a pulpit and told the story of a selfless young man who died serving his nation.

"The last time I was asked to give a eulogy, I told myself I would never do it again," the mayor said as his voice trembled. "But because of Siwo being a reared son and individual that grew up in my family and in our community, I told myself that 'you got to do it, you got to come up and deliver it so people can know him.'"

And so, McDonald gave one last eulogy for U.S. Army Sgt. Iosiwo Uruo, a longtime resident of Agana Heights, who was buried yesterday.

The 27-year-old soldier died on May 24, in Buhriz, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit came under attack from enemy forces using small arms fire. Friends, family, island dignitaries and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, who made an unannounced appearance, were among those gathered for the funeral service.
The mayor described the soldier as an exceptional individual who was obedient and modest. As he wiped tears from his face, he recounted two times when the soldier's selflessness shined.

"The neighbors had called for help because they saw an old man on top of a refrigerator surrounded by 8 feet of water," McDonald recalled. "Siwo went in there and carried the old man on his back and saved him. He didn't want anybody to know. That's how modest this guy was."

Uruo also helped during another typhoon when a house collapsed while a mother and weeks-old baby were inside.

"Siwo was one of our persons that went inside and saved the woman and the baby during the typhoon," McDonald said. "This is how this individual was. He does not think of himself. He thinks about everybody."

It was just two of the many risks and sacrifices he performed for his community, McDonald said.

Throughout the eulogy, the soldier's father Iosaoshy Uruo wept, muffling his cries with a white handkerchief.

"I'd like for the people especially here today to realize that Siwo is not only a hero in Agana Heights but a hero in our nation. Be proud of our son Siwo."

Before the soldier's Mass began, his family was given the awards he earned from his service in the Army. Iosiwo Uruo was awarded the U.S. Army Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Army Commendation medals.

The soldier's hearse was then lead by a motorcycle escort to his gravesite at the Guam Veterans Cemetery in Piti. His family had requested he be buried next to Guam's most recent war dead.

Just three weeks ago the island buried U.S. Army Spc. John D. Flores, 21, of Barrigada in the same cemetery.

Uruo's grief-stricken family members openly wept as they approached the gravesite.

More than 100 people gathered on the Piti hillside, including Interior Secretary Kempthorne who stood beside tearful family members.

Since the soldier's death hundreds, especially members of the Federated States of Micronesia community, showed up each night at his rosaries to pray and remember the hero.

The crowd also fell to tears when the soldier's sister Isabel Uruo began crying out "Get from there Siwo. Get up Siwo and let's go home," as she gripped his grey coffin.

From the Pacific Daily News

Related Link:
Iosiwo Uruo dies of 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire'