Sunday, August 12, 2007

Juan M. Alcantara dies 'of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device'

The distraught family of a Washington Heights soldier killed in Baghdad ripped the White House yesterday for denying his request to see the birth of his child - a daughter he will now never know.

Cpl. Juan Alcantara, 22, was killed Monday alongside three fellow infantrymen when a bomb detonated in a home they were searching in Baghdad.

Alcantara had asked repeatedly that he be allowed to travel to New York to be with his fiancée, Sayanora Lopez, 23, when she gave birth June 29.

But he was turned down and never caught a glimpse of his daughter, Jaylani.

"They wouldn't let him come home, not even for the birth of his daughter," said his tearful mother, Maria Alcantara, 48. "He was supposed to come home in June but because of [President] Bush, they extended his stay."

"My life has ended," she said. "I'm never going to recover from this loss."

Juan Alcantara moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic as a child and graduated from Edward Reynolds West Side High School in Manhattan.

He enlisted in the Army to earn enough money to attend college. He dreamed of following in his sister's footsteps and joining the NYPD, his family said.

"It's been difficult, we're trying to calm my mother down," said Fredelinda Pena, 25, a rookie cop. "He had many friends in the Army. He was loved everywhere."

Alcantara was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Washington State. He was deployed in June 2006.

Army investigators believe the door of the Iraqi house he went to search was booby-trapped, and the explosion brought down the ceiling.

"Because of Bush's persistence in taking over Iraq, my son is dead," wailed Maria Alcantara. "This is a war that has no meaning."

From the Daily News