Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Donald Valentine laid to rest

Anna Valentine had to gaze upon her fallen son's face before she could give up hope that somehow the Army had made a mistake.

"It was him," the Jacksonville, Fla., woman said of her son, Cpl. Donald E. Valentine III, who was returned to his birthplace Tuesday in a flag-draped coffin. "He looks beautiful as ever."

Although he spent only the first five years of his life in Houston, Valentine, who died last week in Iraq, wanted to be buried in the city he called "H-Town." He often visited Houston to spend time with his grandparents and other family members, his mother said.

A funeral service will be conducted at 11:30 a.m. today at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 2405 Navigation. Burial will follow at the Houston National Cemetery.

Valentine, 21, and two others died Sept. 18 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit.

They all were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

While he was in Washington, he met Lucia, and the pair married last year.

He last spoke to his wife on their anniversary, Sept. 15. The couple had intended to start a family soon, his wife said. He also warned his mother that there would soon be "Little Donalds" to contend with.

"He said he didn't want to miss the opportunity to be a dad," said Lucia Valentine, 19.

She described her late husband as "outgoing" and having a great personality, beautiful eyes and "all the qualities any girl would want."

Valentine's mother said her family moved often because her husband, Donald Valentine II, was in the Navy.

The younger Valentine also lived in Boise, Idaho, for four years, but was raised primarily in Jacksonville, Fla., where he graduated from Robert E. Lee High School.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Anna Valentine said her son joined the Army. Another son, Daniel T. Valentine, 19, has since enlisted.

"My husband and I were behind him 100 percent, " said Anna Valentine of her fallen son. "I was proud of him, no matter what he did. He made me proud."

Valentine's widow said her husband had been in Iraq since April and was expected to take leave in November. His parents last saw him during a weeklong visit before he left for the war.

"My husband never really said goodbye to him," Anna Valentine said. "He just told him, 'I'll see you when you get back.' "

Valentine told his wife and family if he did not survive the war, they should "stay strong."

"I thank God every day that I got to spend as much time with him for 21 years," Anna Valentine said, "that he came home to me, and now I'm going to put him to rest."

From the Houston Chronicle

Related Link:
Donald Valentine remembered

Related Link:
Donald E. Valentine III dies 'of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations'