Saturday, June 02, 2007

Victor Fontanilla laid to rest

STOCKTON - Perched in the crook of his mother's arm, 2-year-old Kila Fontanilla clutched a rose at San Joaquin Catholic Cemetery on Friday.

As Kila and his 21-year-old mother, Noel Fontanilla, peered down at the coffin containing the remains of husband, father, and soldier Victor "Mykal" Fontanilla, they simultaneously dropped their flowers.

Little Kila gave his father a brief, but noticeable, wave goodbye.

Nearly 200 of the soldier's friends, family and complete strangers came to St. George Catholic Church in south Stockton to remember fallen Army paratrooper Fontanilla, who was promoted in rank from private first class to specialist in recent days, Master Sgt. Rupert Espinosa said.

Fontanilla, who was a motor transport operator, and two other soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb on May 17 in central Iraq.

Family and friends remembered Fontanilla on Friday for his smile, his can-do attitude and his brave spirit.

"He is my one and only," Noel Fontanilla said, before playing a recording of the song "American Soldier."

"In rough times, he would always say, 'Don't worry, I'll take care of it.' And he always did."

Noel Fontanilla is pregnant with her late husband's second son, due this month.

Mykal Fontanilla's stepfather, Ramon Quichocho, spoke less about the soldier's accomplishments than his goals, which he will never have a chance to obtain.

"He sent some of us an e-mail. Attached, there were drawings, plans of his dream home that he wanted to build in the Pacific," Quichocho said, holding up the renderings for the half-filled church to see.

In another letter, Quichocho said Mykal Fontanilla told him that he appreciated the opportunities to learn from his stepfather, noting, "I know you gave me a chance to beat you when we were doing push-ups together. I have a long way to go to catch you."

"You did beat me doing those push-ups, Mykal. I was just bluffing when I told you I could have kept going," Quichocho confessed.

At the solider's burial, an honor guard provided a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps before the soldier was placed into the ground.

Only family members spoke at the funeral, but many others had kind words for Mykal Fontanilla.

"I just really respect what this man did for me and my country," said Ron Greene, 59, of Stockton. "I see too many of our soldiers being killed. I didn't know Specialist Fontanilla, or any soldiers in Iraq, but I thought I should come pay respects today."

From the Stockton Record

Related Link:
Victor Fontanilla remembered

Related Link:
Victor M. Fontanilla dies of 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'