Sunday, September 09, 2007

Javier 'Niño' Paredes reported killed in Iraq

Army Pfc. Javier Paredes, a 24-year-old San Antonio native who lived most of his childhood in foster care, died in Iraq on Wednesday, his family confirmed.

As a child Paredes, suffered physical abuse, including cigarette wounds to his body, his family said. He and his brothers were removed from his home when Paredes was about 5. Paredes and his four siblings spent most of their childhood at foster homes and group homes all over the state.

Family and friends were still in shock Wednesday night when they gathered at the downtown home of Paredes' aunt, Maria Acevedo.

"Javier was a good kid," Acevedo said. "His mother would have been proud of him."

His mother died in 1999, she said, and family members weren't sure how she died.

Paredes, known by his nickname Niño, lived with Acevedo just before he joined the military in 2004. Before that, he had stints in construction work and at H-E-B as a dishwasher, his family said.

They said that just before noon, two Army officials visited their home on South San Jacinto Street to tell them that Paredes had died from injuries from an explosion.

"I asked them if they were sure it was him," his 21-year-old brother Pedro Paredes said. "They said yes, that he was identified by his dog tags."

They described Paredes as a proud, strong soldier who loved his job and worked as a medic, rescuing wounded soldiers on the battlefront.

One of Paredes' siblings is a Marine, but his whereabouts are unknown, family said.

Child Protective Services did not give information because of confidentiality laws.

Paredes, a graduate of Ingram High School, is the 32nd San Antonio-area resident to die in Iraq since the March 19, 2003, invasion.

The Pentagon had not issued a release confirming his death or providing details about it.

However, the Army reported that two soldiers were killed and another wounded in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday as troops there worked to clear the area of insurgents and militia extremists. Elsewhere in Iraq, two soldiers were killed and three others wounded Wednesday when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle in Salah ad Din province.

The Pentagon did not identify any of the troops killed in action pending notification of their families.

Gonzalo Paredes, 20, said he was going to miss his brother.

Paredes' best friend, Juan Medina, 21, said he worked with Paredes at the Central Market on Broadway for a few years.

Medina said his friend was a hard worker who washed dishes and did other jobs at the store, often volunteering for night and holiday shifts.

"The day he joined the military, he called me from the recruiter's office. I told him, 'Niño, what are you doing? You know we are at war, right?'" Medina said. "But he said he had made his decision, that he was going to do it and I didn't need to worry. But that's the way he was, spontaneous."

Acevedo said she was also worried about her nephew's safety, but told him the day he enlisted that he had her support in his decision.

"I told him joining the military was a bad decision," Pedro Paredes said, remembering that his brother also at some point considered college. "But when he makes up his mind about something, he does it, and he does it all the way."

Medina also remembered a more playful side of Paredes, who was an avid fan of the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Cowboys.

"Every Thursday we would all get together to play flag football at Olmos Park," Medina said. "Once, there was a team playing rugby and Niño said he wanted to try it, so he did."

From the Express News