Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Javier 'Niño' Paredes remembered at school

A long-time resident of the Hill Country Youth Ranch and graduate of Ingram Tom Moore High School died this week while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Javier Paredes was 24.

The U.S. Department of Defense late Thursday had not yet posted confirmation of Paredes’ death and several voicemail messages left for media contacts at U.S. DoD and at several U.S. Army offices were not returned Thursday.

HCYR Director Gary Priour said he had been notified Wednesday night, because Paredes had listed the residential treatment and foster care center as a family contact.

The death has saddened everyone at the center for at-risk and tragedy-based children, Priour said.

“We knew him to be a person of great character and courage, who cared deeply about others, including his siblings and friends at the Ranch,” Priour said in a statement. “He was proud that he had picked up the pieces and graduated from high school. By the time he left, he had become an integral part of our family here.”

Paredes arrived at HCYR in 1998, attended high school and graduated in 2002. In 2004, he joined the U.S. Army and became a medic after working jobs in construction and retail, Priour said.

HCYR staff Thursday remembered Paredes as someone who was “intrigued by everything he encountered.” Although he struggled with physical abuse and neglect and was removed along with siblings from his family’s care, Paredes found “joy in the simplest of moments,” Priour said in the statement.

The flag in front of the HCYR library was flown at half-mast in Paredes’ honor

“He was truly one of the sweetest spirits I’ve ever known,” Priour said. “He loved the medical corps in the army because he was always helping people.”

Ingram administrators did not remember Paredes, nor did several long-time teachers contacted by high school administrators. Principal T.W. Carpenter said records didn’t show Paredes as a graduate.

Although Paredes didn’t attend her in-school suspension class, Karen Moore said she remembered interacting with him on campus. She said she always knew he would accomplish something, even if his life was cut short.

“Javier just fought really hard to accomplish things in life,” said Moore, who no longer works at the school. “He was a survivor. ... Sometimes, life threw up obstacles. He would go forward. He was always so proud of what he accomplished.”

From the Kerrville Daily Times

Related Link:
Javier 'Niño' Paredes reported killed in Iraq