Thursday, August 23, 2007

Daniel Scates remembered

Staff Sgt. William "Daniel" Scates, 31, who was killed in Iraq earlier this month, told family members he didn't think he would survive his third tour in the war-torn country.

The soldier, described by family and friends as someone who throughout his life took younger people under his wing, was killed Aug. 11 when an improvised bomb exploded as he and others in his unit were clearing a building in Arab Jabour, Iraq. Scates and three other members of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, were killed that day.

Earlier in Scates' career, the Oklahoma City native served with a Fort Bliss military police company. He met his wife, Raquel, in El Paso during that assignment. Her family still lives here, and she and her two daughters, Jade Alexis, 9, and Kendra Renee, 8 months, plan to move back from Fort Stewart, Ga., where her husband was stationed. Scates, according to his wishes, will be buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery on Friday.

"He was a true soldier," said Rose Mary Vega, Scates' mother-in-law, during an interview at her West El Paso home. "He was destined, I guess, to be a soldier because he loved it so much. I could tell."

Just as when he was a child and helped kids smaller or weaker than himself, he also felt responsible for his soldiers, Vega said.

"He talked a lot about his soldiers who were coming in and about how they didn't know what they were getting into and he had to toughen them up because they were going to need it," she said.

Raquel Scates said she fell in love with her husband-to-be the first time she met him in 1996. "He was funny. He was good-looking," she said. They were married in August 1996. The couple lived in El Paso for eight months before he left the service and they moved to Oklahoma City, where he did private security work.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, he re-enlisted, Raquel Scates said.

"He didn't want any of that coming over here to the States, so he went back into the Army and went into the infantry this time," Scates said. "I knew it's what he loved to do and he'd be happy doing it. I always supported him on his decisions."

Before leaving on what was to be his last tour, however, Scates told his wife what to do if he was killed. "He just had a feeling that he wasn't going to come back," she said. "It wasn't like the other times."

Scates took shrapnel in the face and on his side when a roadside bomb exploded in early July while he was on a foot patrol, Raquel Scates said. "He lost one of his soldiers that day."

After three days of rest, he was back on duty, she said.

During a phone call a few days before his death, Raquel Scates said, he talked about how different this tour was.

"It was more dangerous," she said he told her. "Almost on a daily basis they're getting injured or someone's dying."

The soldier projected a macho image, his wife said, but there was much more to him.

"When you would first meet him, he always seemed like he was intimidating, or rough around the edges, but he was a sensitive guy," she said. "He's a lot of people's hero."

From the El Paso Times

Related Link:
Daniel (William D.) Scates remembered by mother

Related Link:
Daniel (William D.) Scates dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'