Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Omar Mora reported killed in Iraq

The family of Army Sgt. Omar Mora remembered him as a loving man who was passionate about playing soccer, fixing cars and being a soldier.

The 28-year-old Texas City resident was killed in a noncombat-related vehicle accident in Baghdad on Monday, said Robert Capetillo, his stepfather.

"We'll never see him coming through the house anymore," Capetillo said Tuesday. "That's so hard to even think about."

Capetillo said Mora was a member of the infantry unit of the 82nd Airborne Division.

"It was something he always wanted to do," he said. "He always wanted to be in the military."

His stepfather said Mora once told him that the situation in Iraq was desperate. He was especially sad about the children.

"He was sad about the way they were having to live in Iraq with the war going on," he added.

Mora's sister, Erica Capetillo, 18, will miss his big-brotherly advice and kindness.

"He was very protective over me," she said. "He wanted the best for me. He always told me to stay in school and not to drop any of my college classes."

Mora came to Texas City from Ecuador with his mother, Olga, when he was about 2 years old, his stepfather said. Capetillo said he married Olga when Mora was about 5 years old.

Mora loved soccer. He joined youth leagues and played for the school team when he attended La Marque High School. He later played in adult leagues.

He also was a talented mechanic who spent hours tinkering on his car.

Mora graduated from La Marque High School in the late 1990s, attended the College of the Mainland and worked several jobs in the area, but always had a desire to join the Army.

He enlisted in 2004.

Capetillo said he cautioned his stepson about the dangers of enlisting when the war was raging, but Mora said he was eager to help the country battle terrorism.

"He said he wasn't afraid," Capetillo said. "He was proud of this country and he wanted to go over and help."

Capetillo said funeral arrangements will be made later.

In addition to his stepfather, mother and sister, Mora is survived by his wife, Christa Mora, and 5-year-old daughter, Jordan, both of Fort Bragg, N.C., Mora also is survived by his brother, Roger Mora, 34, of League City.

From the Houston Chronicle

Olga Capetillo struggled Tuesday to make sense of her son’s death in Baghdad.

Sgt. Omar Mora, a U.S. citizen for just a few weeks, had struggled to make sense of the war for which he had volunteered.

Mora, who grew up in Texas City, died with six other soldiers Monday in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad, Mora’s family said. The accident also killed two detainees, The Associated Press reported.

A military statement made no mention of hostile fire. The military had not released the identities of any of the dead on Tuesday.

Mora, 28, is survived by his 5-year-old daughter, Jordan; his wife, Christa; his mother; a brother; a sister; and his stepfather, Robert Capetillo.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

America’s Son

Olga Capetillo said she and Mora moved from Ecuador to the United States when he was 2 years old. He lived the rest of his life in Texas City and graduated from La Marque High School.

Capetillo said her son was well-liked by friends on a local soccer team. He spent much of his free time working on cars and activities at his church, St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal in Texas City, where he taught children in Sunday school. Capetillo said her son often asked people to mail him candy and other items he could give to Iraqi children.

While attending College of the Mainland, he decided to join the Army. His family said he always wanted to join the military and thought he owed it to his country — before he was even a citizen — to join the war effort.

“My son gave his life for his country because he loves his country, and because this country raised him like he was its own,” Olga Capetillo said.

Witnessing Pain

An infantryman, within three years he earned the rank of sergeant in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. A legal permanent resident in the United States, Mora wanted to join the Army Special Forces, which requires citizenship. He received his citizenship papers a few weeks ago.

November would have marked the end of his 15-month deployment.

The Capetillos last saw their son in April, when he was on leave after a roadside bomb damaged his ears and left one of his friends without an arm.

He eventually redeployed, and in August saw another friend shot in the head, a wound that later killed him, the Capetillos said.

Mora and six other soldiers were then in the process of writing an editorial that later ran in The New York Times. Six of the men were sergeants.

Questioning The War

“To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched,” the group wrote.

They said recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable simply didn’t jibe with realities on the ground. They then went on for paragraphs describing those nuances.

“We are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force,” they said.

The most important front in the counterinsurgency is improving basic social and economic conditions — the front on which the United States has “failed most miserably,” they said.

Robert Capetillo said Mora told his family the editorial had been misunderstood by many who have used it as political ammunition in calling for troop withdrawals.

But Mora and his comrades didn’t call for that. Instead, they said the United States should “increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.”

Olga Capetillo said that by the time Mora submitted the editorial, he had grown increasingly depressed.

“I told him God is going to take care of him and take him home,” she said. “But yesterday is the darkest day for me.”

From the Galveston County Daily News