Thursday, August 16, 2007

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

Playful, cool, heroic - Roxbury soldier Joan J. Duran was many things to his grieving young nephews.

“He was cool - the best uncle,” beamed 13-year-old Leobel Moreta as he described 24-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Duran, cut down and killed by an explosion in Iraq Friday.

“My best memory of him is when we would play wrestling. He was great fun to be with. He was a great person and a hero,” Leobel said.

“He would play with us every single day and was always there for us,” said Chris Jimenez, 12, another of Duran’s adoring nephews.

The soldier’s devastated mother reportedly collapsed when she heard news of his death. She and Duran’s sister were too upset to talk at his Regent Street apartment in Roxbury yesterday.

But family friend Amanda Ward said: “He died for the thing he loved - his country. He died with honor, dignity and respect.”

Duran was due to return to the United States after completing his second tour of the Middle East, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, in October.

He had planned to marry fiancee Andrea Silva when he got back home. “She is absolutely devastated,” Ward said.

Duran graduated in 2002 from Boston Latin School, where he was a straight-A student and wanted to become a high school math teacher, his family said.

Duran, who served his country for four years, died Aug. 10 when a bomb exploded as he delivered supplies.

He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

From the Boston Herald