Sunday, July 15, 2007

Le Ron Wilson remembered

A Queens teenager who told his family "I'm living my dream" fighting in Iraq died when his Army unit was hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, military officials said yesterday.

Pfc. Le Ron Wilson, 18, of the Army's 26th Brigade Support Battalion, and a fellow soldier were killed Friday while on patrol in the Iraqi capital, officials said. "I'm proud of him, of everything he did," Wilson's heartbroken mother, Simona Francis, 42, told the Daily News last night.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Wilson immigrated to New York when he was 11. Even before then, he was determined to become a soldier, his mother said. "He loved it," said Francis, who last spoke to her son June 30 by phone. "He lived for that. He told me, 'I'm living my dream.'"

For his 17th birthday, Wilson asked his mother to sign enlistment papers so he could join the Army before turning 18. He went into the military the day he graduated from Thomas Edison High School in Jamaica in June 2006. "I always said whatever he chose I would support him," said Francis, of Brookville, Queens. "That's what he truly wanted."

Wilson shipped out to Iraq in May, a little nervous but thrilled to serve his adopted country, his mother said. "He said he wanted to go to Iraq," she said. "He was excited to get his combat patch." Despite his age, Wilson, who trained as a weapons repair specialist at Fort Stewart, Ga., had already achieved two promotions and had twice been selected soldier of the month in his battalion, his mother said.

"By the time actual training had started, he was already the senior man in his unit at 17-1/2," Wilson's proud father, Lawrence Wilson, told the Trinidad and Tobago Express newspaper.

He said his son "could have been the next Colin Powell," the Harlem-reared son of Jamaican immigrants who rose to the rank of four-star general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before becoming secretary of state.

"Le Ron was bright as a bulb," Lawrence Wilson said. "He joined the Army because he felt he was being of service to humanity. That was the kind of person he was."

Wilson's body arrived in a flag-draped coffin at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday. His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Christ the King Church in Springfield Gardens. He will be buried with full military honors at Long Island National Cemetery.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department also announced yesterday that the death in Iraq of Marine Lance Cpl. Angel Ramirez, 28, of Brooklyn, has been classified as "killed in action." The married father of a 3-year-old daughter was injured in a "nonhostile incident" in Al Qaim, Iraq, in December 2006, said Capt. Neal Fisher, spokesman for Ramirez's 3rd Battalion in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Fisher said Ramirez's death remains under investigation and had no details on how he was hurt. He said Ramirez was evacuated to Twentynine Palms, where he died Feb. 21.

"He was definitely a good man," said Gloria Cardona, Ramirez's former neighbor in Sunset Park. "He has a beautiful little girl."

From the NY Daily News

Related Link:
Le Ron A. Wilson dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'