Monday, September 03, 2007

Adrian Elizalde laid to rest

In the high school gymnasium where he once wrestled, hundreds of people gathered Saturday to remember the life of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Elizalde, who was killed in Iraq on Aug, 23.

The Army Special Forces engineer grew up in the community and graduated from North Bend High School in 1995. The funeral drew old friends, community members, his family and Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Nearly everyone who spoke stopped to rest a hand on the flag-swathed casket.

Elizalde died when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Al Aziziyah, Iraq. He had been in Iraq since February.

He was assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash., and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Kulongoski said these days of war are "times that try men's souls."

"This is a painful day for North Bend High School and the North Bend community. Today, you are grieving for one of you own.

"This community has lost someone who brought a special courage, grace and commitment to everything he did." Kulongoski said.

He said Elizalde is the first Green Beret from Oregon to die in Iraq.

Elizalde's parents, Jorge and Teresa Elizalde, did not speak at the funeral, or at the burial at Sunset Memorial Park.

But his older sister, Rachel Elizalde, her face and eyes tinged red from crying, approached the casket. She pressed her lips to the flag before speaking.

"My brother was my hero and when I look out and see all of you, I'm so proud that I shared my hero with you," she said.

From the Examiner

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Adrian Elizalde remembered

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