Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wilberto Suliveras dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire'

Wilberto Suliveras, a Puerto Rican sergeant who was killed Sunday in Iraq, died six months after his mother and two months after his maternal grandmother.

The three deaths in such a short time have devastated the family, said Wilma Suliveras, sister of the soldier.

“It leaves us with an enormous vacumm because he was the joy of the family. He was the one who called and talked to everyone. The loss is going to be immense,” added Suliveras, who was with her father when she was speaking by phone with the media.

U.S. Army island spokesman José Pagán said Tuesday Suliveras died from enemy fire in the city of Taji, Iraq.
“The family requested he be buried here,” said Pagán.

The woman said her brother, 38 years old, would be buried in the Bayamón National Cemetery, but before that the body would be sent to Fort Hood, Texas, where there would be a ceremony. Neither she nor Pagán knew when the body would arrive in Puerto Rico.

A member of the active Army, Wilberto was assigned to the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood.

At least 60 soldiers of Puerto Rican descent have died in U.S. conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

The Suliveras family is originally from Guayama, but the father of the soldier, Wilfredo Suliveras, resides in Humacao.

The father, 66 years old, found out about the death of his son on Sunday, while he was visiting the home of another son in Houston, Texas.

“I was spending some time in the home of my children in Houston. We found out at the home of my other son,” he said.

Hipólito Suliveras, an uncle of Wilberto and a resident of Caguas, began to cry when he spoke of his nephew.

“He was my favorite nephew, he was very friendly with everyone… Several months ago he was here and I gave him a sweater. He was very appreciative, he put it on right away and everything,” he said between sobs.

The last time Wilberto was in Puerto Rico was for the funeral of his mother, Carmen Delia Ortiz, who died suddenly in January of a major heart attack. She was 61 years old.

In May, the family suffered the loss of its maternal grandmother, Carmen Sánchez, who was 80 years old.

The last time Wilberto saw his mother alive was in October, 2006, when she was in Texas to say goodbye to him before he went to Iraq.

“We have cried and we have suffered, but we have a great strength, which comes from God. He has helped us overcome these three deaths,” Wilma commented.

The sister told of how, before joining the military 12 years ago, Wilberto was involved with race cars.

“He always liked cars, he sold parts. He even had race cars, and he liked to have his car very nice and all fixed up,” Wilma explained.

Wilberto also liked to share with other family members. “He was helpful, funny, happy… His favorite meal was fried pork chops with rice,” she remembered.

From PR Wow