Sunday, August 12, 2007

Zach Gonzalez laid to rest

Zachariah Jared Gonzalez's interest in food was serious enough that he planned to make a career of it.

When he joined the Army in 2002, after finishing at Hamilton Southeastern High School, he elected to be a cook. It would be good practice for later, when he'd open a restaurant.

But soon Gonzalez had a change of heart. He quit cooking and transferred to the infantry. He'd been there a year and a month, patrolling Baghdad with Bravo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, when the vehicle he was riding in was blown up July 31 by an improvised explosive device. He and two fellow soldiers were killed.

Gonzalez, 23, was buried Wednesday in Indianapolis. He was the 93rd member of the military with ties to Indiana to be killed in the war in Iraq.

Gonzalez came from a large family, and many of his relatives participated in his funeral at St. Monica Catholic Church on the Northwestside.

An aunt read from the Bible, as did a cousin. Both of his brothers gave eulogies, Jacob recalling his brother's perseverance.

"He loved to fish," Jacob said, "and he would never give up. We'd be leaving, and he'd still be fishing."

"We're so proud of Zach," said his other brother, Seth. "You're more than a brother. You're a hero now."

Gonzalez was remembered as friendly, likable -- his Army buddies called him Gonzo -- but also as focused, with a serious side.

"He was self-directed," said Monsignor Paul Koetter, who officiated at the funeral. "He wanted to go somewhere in his life."

Gonzalez's interest in cooking stemmed from his mother, Laura Galan Gonzalez, who taught her three sons as well as her daughter to be at home in the kitchen.

When they were young, she'd encourage them to find a recipe that interested them. She'd take them shopping for the ingredients, then be on hand to answer questions as the children labored to turn the project into dinner.

"The cooking was social," Koetter said. "The kitchen would be full of people. It was all about family."

Despite his fondness for cooking, Gonzalez quickly began to see more pressing matters after joining the Army. That's when he moved from the kitchen to the front lines.

"I find that amazing," Koetter said. "Most of us would be thankful to have a safe job. But for him to choose the infantry shows that when he believed in something, he needed to do something."
About 600 mourners filled the church, many sniffling as the service ended and Laura and Benedict Gonzales followed their son's coffin out the door to the hymn "Here I Am Lord."
They buried him at Our Lady of Peace Cemetery on Haverstick Road.

From the Indianapolis Star

Related Link:
Zachariah J. Gonzalez dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'