Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Joan Duran laid to rest

One by one, they stared in disbelief at the closed coffin of the man who was supposed to be invincible.

Nearly 200 friends, relatives, and community leaders came together yesterday to honor Joan Jose Duran, 24, known as "Superman" to friends for his extraordinary strength and lightning-fast speed.

Duran, of Roxbury, died Aug. 10 in Iraq after suffering noncombat-related injuries while serving as a sergeant in the 82d Airborne Division of the Army. Officials have not released more details on his death.

As military officials saluted her son by firing gunshots into the air, Duran's mother, Milagros Garcia, stared at the flag-draped casket and wept.

"He just went to sleep. He will always be in my heart," Garcia said in Spanish after the funeral. "You will see him come back."

Family members plan to travel to Duran's native Dominican Republic today to bury him. Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino attended the funeral yesterday in the Spanish Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Boston, located in Dorchester. Pews were dotted with white T-shirts emblazoned with Duran's face on the back and a winged Superman shield on the front.

"He was always there to catch me if I fell," said Humphrey Rodriguez, 22, a friend Duran called Spider-Man. "He'd never leave anybody behind," he said after the two-hour funeral.

He was also romantic, composing songs and poems for Andrea Silva of Woburn, his girlfriend of two years whom he planned to marry. Silva, 17, returned home one day to find that Duran had sprinkled her bed with rose pedals and decorated the room with images of Tinkerbell, the nickname he gave her.

"He did things for me that girls get old and never experience," Silva said after the funeral. "I kept thinking that there's got to be something wrong with him, but it never came."

Duran, on his second tour in Iraq, had planned to return home in November. An all-star athlete and student, he aspired to be a college math teacher and planned to buy a house.

Silva said Duran entered the military to get ahead financially and build a foundation for his future.

"He wanted to do something with his life," she said.

Duran was quiet, even with close friends and family, but never afraid, said his older brother, Ramón Espinal, 37. One time, Duran hid a glow-in-the-dark skeleton in Espinal's bed and smiled in delight when his brother screamed in fright.

"My brother was a hero," Espinal, a swimming instructor, said after the funeral. "We know we are going to see him back again."

From the Boston Globe

Related Link:
Joan Duran remembered

Related Link:
Joan J. Duran dies 'of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident'