Monday, July 23, 2007

Luis E. Gutierrez-Rosales dies 'of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked by enemy forces using an IED and small arms fire'

Sgt. 1st Class Luis Gutierrez-Rosales always told his mother and sisters and nieces to be strong.

When they escorted their Army Ranger to the airport, the sisters always cried.

He would smile at them and say, I'll be back.

When his sisters told him to be careful, he would say to them, full of confidence and with a big smile, "Oh, don't worry, God doesn't want the good-looking guys in heaven."

Gutierrez-Rosales was killed Wednesday in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Saturday.

An Army Ranger, Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, died in Adhamiyah, Iraq, when he and three other soldiers were attacked by insurgents using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire, according to the Department of Defense release.

Gutierrez-Rosales was a platoon leader. This was his second tour of duty in Iraq.

He graduated from Bakersfield High School and served in the California Conservation Corps before joining the Army at age 21, said his younger sister, Noemi Rosales.

The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Schweinfurt, Germany.

Gutierrez-Rosales, or "Kiki," as his family called him, was an 18-year Army veteran. As a boy he drew pictures of guns on his school notebooks and he always wanted to be a soldier, his older sister, Sandra Rosales, said on Saturday evening in front of the family home in Lamont. Services for the soldier have not yet been announced.

When she e-mailed him to take care of himself, her brother replied to her on July 16, congratulating her for getting a Class A truck driver's license, and telling her not to worry about him.

"He was always laughing with us," she said.

Gutierrez-Rosales sent his mother a computer from Germany so he could e-mail her letters.

On Saturday Maria Rosales clicked through digital pictures and talked about his smile.

"He was a happy, happy guy," said his mother.

"He smiled, and talked to everybody. He would say, 'Hi, how are you' to anyone on the street. And I say that not because he was my son, but because it is the truth," Rosales said.

A high school photo of a gangly Gutierrez-Rosales hangs prominently on the Rosales living-room wall in the center of pictures of the women who loved him.

He was the man of the house in a house of seven women who loved him as a son, a brother, and a father, his sister, Sandra, said.

They would quote from the Hail Mary, "Bendito tu eres entre todas las mujeres" -- "You're blessed among all the women."

Gutierrez-Rosales' younger sister Noemi Rosales said he lived for his 8-year old daughter, Amber, and planned all his R & R trips around her.

Her brother loved motorcycles and sipping tequila with his cousins. He read voraciously and loved the movie "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." And he loved animals. He had pet dogs and cats, and when he was stationed in Alaska he kept an iguana before it died of the cold, Noemi Rosales, 23, said.

The men in his platoon respected him so much they would call to check in on him when he was at home. He was always a leader, Noemi Rosales said.

Gutierrez-Rosales was due to rotate out of Iraq in two months, and he planned to marry his fiancee in Las Vegas at the Venetian Resort Hotel before returning to Germany.

Gutierrez-Rosales' fiancee is in the Army Reserve, and will escort his body home from Iraq, Noemi Rosales said.

On Wednesday, Maria Rosales had just returned home from work when she heard the knock on the door.

Normally she would look out the curtain before answering, but this time she didn't look.

"I just opened the door and the two men were there, and I knew," she said.

"But I will try to be strong, because that's what he always wanted," she said.

From the Bakersfield Californian