Monday, July 23, 2007

Daniel E. Gomez dies 'of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked by enemy forces using an IED and small arms fire'

PORT ISABEL — Family members of fallen soldier Spc. Daniel Gomez said Monday they are “devastated” by his death.

Gomez, 21, died Wednesday in Adhamiyah, Iraq, from wounds sustained when a vehicle in which he and three other soldiers were traveling in was attacked with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. The other three also died.

Gomez’s parents, Juan and Juanita Gomez, are originally from Port Isabel, said his aunt Refugia Leal, also from Port Isabel.

“(Gomez’s parents) are so devastated,” Leal said. “We tried to talk to them, but every time we try to talk, they break down.

“We are devastated too. With this war going on and how we feel about this war, and here we are,” Leal added. “He was so young. He was only 21.”

The other victims were Army Sgt. Luis E. Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, Bakersfield, Calif.; Spc. Zachary R. Clouser, 19, Dover, Pa.; and Spc. Richard Gilmore III, 22, Jasper, Ala.

Leal said that although Gomez did not live in the Rio Grande Valley, he visited his grandmother, Enriqueta Gomez in Port Isabel, whenever he could.

“(Gomez’s grandmother) is very upset,” Leal said. “He was the favorite grandson. He was in Georgia on leave about a month and a half ago and (Gomez’s grandmother) talked to him to ask him how he was doing.”

Leal said that Gomez’s family has lived in Warner Robbins, Ga., for the past couple of years, but they spent much time living in the San Antonio area. Juan Gomez worked for the Kelly Air Force Base until it closed and was relocated to Warner Robbins.

Daniel, who was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Schweinfurt, Germany, graduated from Warner Robins High School in Georgia in 2004.

“He will be buried in San Antonio,” Leal said. “That’s what my nephew had picked. But the body is still en-route. Last time I heard, his body was in Maryland.”

Gomez was the oldest of three siblings, Leal said, leaving behind his sister Mari Anne Gomez and his 15-year-old brother Louie Gomez.

Gomez’s family, including his Port Isabel relatives and immediate family in Georgia, will meet in San Antonio this week for funeral arrangements, Leal said.

"Right now we're kind of at a loss for words," Gomez's sister, Mari Anne told the Macon Telegraph newspaper Sunday night. "But I think Daniel's life was like a lesson. All the things he's been through in such a short time ... what we learned from this one situation was that you're here one day, you're gone the next. We hate to say it, but we're another statistic."

Gomez’s father, Jose Gomez, graduated from Port Isabel High School in 1974.

From the Brownsville Herald