Monday, August 06, 2007

Michael Baloga remembered at candlelight vigil

EVERETT - Army Pvt. Michael Baloga had many, many friends, but one friendship got off to a rough start.

Gerry Warren of Everett - who attended Sequoia High School with Baloga but didn't know him at the time - helped stuff Baloga into a downtown trash can the first day they met.

It was all in good fun, Warren said. Nevertheless, he apologized to Baloga soon after. The two grew close. They hung out regularly with several other teens at Clark Park, playing hacky sack and passing the time.

Baloga, who lived in Everett, died July 26 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, from wounds suffered in a blast from a roadside bomb. He had been part of a convoy carrying medical supplies. He was 21.

On Saturday, Warren was among more than 60 people who honored the fallen soldier with a candlelight vigil at Legion Memorial Park.

"He'd go out of his way to make sure his friends were taken care of," Warren said.

Baloga turned his back on construction work to join the Army. He wanted to give his 1-year-old daughter, Isis, a better life.

Family members described Baloga as a caring brother and a great father.

"My brother Michael was a very caring, warm, gentle man," said Jeremiah Nydoske, one of his brothers. "He never caused harm to anyone. He had more friends than I could count. I wish I was half as good as a person as he was."

His stepmother, Linda Baloga, recalled how he used to wear clown hats to school and around town. He didn't care what people thought, she said.

"Michael was a son that everyone should have," Linda Baloga said. "What everyone could learn from Michael was how to love."

Michael Baloga's family worried about his choice to join the military. However, they understood his reasons, and they supported him.

Even while overseas, Baloga used the Internet to keep in touch with loved ones.

"He loved and was loved, he did for anyone without asking for repayment," said his father, Robert Baloga of Idaho. "Michael Andrew Baloga was our son and a brother that will be remembered as a man who always wanted to do more for anyone.

"We will all endure the loss of one of our best, but our sorrow and love will last forever," he said.

From the Everett Herald

Related Link:
Michael Baloga remembered

Related Link:
Michael Baloga reported killed in Iraq