Sunday, December 25, 2005

Army Specialist Sergio Gudino

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Sergio Gudino, 22, of Pomona, California.

Spc Gudino was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; killed Dec. 25 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his M1A1 tank during combat operations in Baghdad. -- OMONA - Sergio Gudino wanted nothing more than to provide for his wife and 3-year-old son.

To do that, the Pomona resident joined the U.S. Army, surprising his three siblings.

"Sergio is like a big ol' teddy bear," said Victor Gudino, Sergio's eldest brother. "I knew he was a strong person but I couldn't see my brother doing that -- shooting at people."

Now Sergio's family is struggling with the news that their sibling's life was cut short.

The 21-year-old Army specialist died Christmas Day when a roadside bomb went off near the tank he was driving during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

"He's not going to be here to see his son grow up," said Sergio's younger brother Andrew, 18. "I'm going to miss him."

Sergio, a quiet man who always had a smile on his face, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

Sergio was a graduate of Claremont High School. Although his brothers attended Pomona High, Sergio chose to attend Claremont High for the academic program, Victor, 27, said.

Not only was Sergio a straight-A student, he was also a strong athlete who was part of the football, track and field and wrestling teams, Andrew said.

The Gudino brothers said they all thought Sergio would go on to college, and they were surprised when he decided to marry shortly after graduating.

Sergio married his wife, Candy, in December of 2001 and worked and attended Chaffey College, his brothers said. But when Sergio learned he was going to be a father he refocused and concentrated on working.

To provide for his wife and newborn son, Cyrus, he held down three jobs, working for United Parcel Service in one of the company's warehouses, at a sandwich shop and selling time shares, Andrew said.

Then about three years ago Sergio announced he was joining the Army.

Eddie Gudino, 25, said he realized his brother was thinking of joining the service when he saw an Army recruiter at Sergio's wedding.

"When I seen the recruiter you pretty much got the hint," Eddie said.

Sergio went off to Iraq but returned to Pomona this fall to recover from a serious wound that left a gash in his right shoulder. Eddie said Sergio told their father the wound was accidental and resulted when a large caliber round left in a weapon discharged.

Sergio spent about two months in Pomona before returning overseas around late October, Eddie said.

The older brothers said they tried to talk to Sergio and get him to reconsider returning to Iraq. He had the option of not returning but he wanted to rejoin his colleagues.

He was also talking about re-enlisting when his commitment ended, Victor said.

"He liked what he was doing. He never seemed scared about anything," he said.

When he was in town Sergio spoke about how he missed not having a particular brand of Mexican hot sauce, his brothers said.

The Tabasco sauce the military provided just didn't satisfy Sergio, so he bought a couple of cases of Tapatio hot sauce and took it with him, Victor said.

While he was away Sergio would call on special occasions such as Mother's Day and he'd e-mail periodically, the brothers said.

Often Sergio's wife would forward messages or share news about him with the family, the brothers said.

Victor said the news of his brother's death hasn't really sunk in.

"I still can't believe it," he said. "It just comes to my head all the time. I'm not going to be able to see him."

Word that Sergio had died came Sunday afternoon, Eddie said. Military officials came to the family's home and he knew something was wrong.

The officials wanted to speak with the Gudino brothers' parents, Eddie said. So he called his father who lives in Rancho Cucamonga and asked him to come speak with the Army officials.

His father held his emotions in, Eddie said, and only broke down when he spoke with Sergio's wife on the phone.

"I'd never seen him cry before," Eddie said.

Army Specialist Sergio Gudino was killed in action on 12/25/05.

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