Sunday, April 23, 2006

Army Cpl. Jason B. Daniel

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Jason B. Daniel, 21, of Fort Worth, Texas.

Cpl. Daniel died of injuries sustained in Taji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. He was assigned to the 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on April 23, 2006.

By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News

Cpl. Jason Brent Daniel of Crowley was adventurous.

Growing up, he loved whitewater rafting, which he did with his church group one summer in Colorado.

He also liked it when the group got to glide down a mountainside hanging from a guy wire.

He excelled in the advanced science classes he took in the Crowley schools and graduated from Crowley High in January 2004.

Two months after graduating, he joined the Army and became a medic, but he was bored by hospital work and requested assignment as a combat medic.

"He liked helping; he didn't like just taking information down and drawing blood," said his mother, Linda Daniel of Fulton, Texas.

Cpl. Daniel, 21, was going to help when he died April 23 in Taji, Iraq.

He was one of three Fort Hood soldiers killed by a roadside bomb as they rode in a Humvee during combat operations, according to the Department of Defense.

Services for Cpl. Daniel will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Army Medical Department Chapel on Garden Avenue at Fort Sam Houston. Civilians who want to attend the funeral should use the Binz Engleman gate at the San Antonio base, his family said.

Visitation will be from 6 to 9 tonight at the Sunset Funeral Home Chapel in San Antonio.

A rosary will be recited at 7 tonight at the funeral home.

Cpl. Daniel will be buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

"When he got involved in something, he was dedicated to it," his mother said. "He was very responsible growing up."

Born in San Antonio, Cpl. Daniel grew up in Crowley.

"He had a very imaginative mind," his mother said.

Raised by his mother, Cpl. Daniel had participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters since he was 8. One of his big brothers was a geneticist who helped fuel his passion for science.

When he was 14, Cpl. Daniel took part in a crosstown program for students with dyslexia. The summer classes helped.

One day, he needed a ride because his mother was involved in a car accident. When no one showed up, he set out on foot to the class.

"He thought he was going to be late, so he walked seven miles to school," his mother said.

Two years ago, Cpl. Daniel married Monika Villafranca, who also attended Crowley schools. The romance developed after they graduated.

"They didn't like each other in high school," Mrs. Daniel said.

Monika Daniel is now a specialist with the Army Reserves. She was taking a class at Fort Sam Houston when Cpl. Daniel was killed.

Cpl. Daniel was deployed to Iraq on Dec. 10. He'd been promoted to specialist after taking desert training in September and October.

He'd just been promoted to corporal but didn't know it at the time of his death.

Killed with Cpl. Daniel were Sgt. Robert W. Ehney, 26, of Lexington, Ky., and Cpl. Shawn T. Lasswell Jr., 21, of Reno, Nev.

The soldiers were assigned to Fort Hood's 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

In addition to his mother and wife, Cpl. Daniel is survived by his father, Henry H. Gil of Jourdanton, Texas, and a sister, Teagan Gil of Jourdanton.

Algebra teacher Aretha Hall said Jason Daniel was always willing to help others in her class."He would always encourage others to just keep trying and it would eventually get easier," Hall said. "I would always smile because I knew that one day, he would be an asset to the world with his helping spirit."

Sig Christenson
Express-News Military Writer

Cpl. Jason Brent Daniel was described in a brief Army biography as a young man for whom "everything in life was an adventure."

That adventure came full circle Friday, as four Percheron mix draft horses pulled his flag-draped casket on a wooden caisson around a bend at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

A toddler cried, but not a word was spoken as Daniel's family, friends and fellow troops stood under a shelter. Then six members of the Fort Sam Houston Honors Platoon placed the casket over his final resting place just a mile from where he trained in the summer of 2004.

Three rifle volleys rang out. Taps sounded.

"He joined the Army for the education and sense of patriotism," Fort Sam's commander, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, said following the burial. "He wanted to be a medic so he could learn how to take care of people."

A San Antonio native, Daniel, 21, was killed April 23 with two other soldiers when a roadside bomb detonated in Taji, a town in the Sunni Triangle, long a hotbed of the Iraqi insurgency.

He was the 36th medic killed in Gulf War II, Fort Sam spokesman Phil Reidinger said, and the 46th soldier from Fort Hood's 4th Infantry Division to die in Iraq since it began its second tour there late last year.

As a stormy night gave way to a sunny, muggy morning, 65 members of the Patriot Guard Riders stood outside Fort Sam's 1910 Gift Chapel in honor of Daniel, the 16th San Antonian to die in Iraq. They'd driven their motorcycles from across the state to stand outside the chapel, all clasping American flags.

"We came here to pay respect to our fallen heroes, pay respect to the family and our community," said Bill Papa, 66, of San Antonio and an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War.

Inside, family, friends and a mix of troops from various service branches listened as Chaplain (Capt.) Francisco Stodola conducted a Catholic service.

There was no eulogy and no family members or friends spoke at the service. Family members also declined to comment.

Stodola conceded it isn't normal for parents to bury a child, but stressed the importance of keeping faith.

"Why would a God who is all good and all loving and all merciful allow bad things to exist in our world?" Stodola said. "And, of course, the answer is that God does not wish these things, he does not desire these things, he does not desire for all of you here now to be suffering at this moment as you are. But he uses evil to bring about good."

When he came to Iraq, Daniel quickly became known as "Little Noah." It was a term of endearment with a history. The unit's former physician's assistant had been given that name, but it was passed on because Daniel looked so much like him, Weightman said, adding that they called him "doc" as well.

Daniel was known as a quick study and hungry to improve his skills, but learning wasn't his only strong suit. Folks also discovered that if he had $5, he'd send $4 of it to his wife, Monika Villafranca Daniel, an Army Reservist in training as a medic.

"They said he was small in stature," Weightman said, "but had a big, huge heart."

Army Cpl. Jason B. Daniel was killed in action on 04/23/06.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I died the day my baby died and nothing can
mend my heart or give me life till the day I
join Jason in heaven. It will be 6 this April a day
has not gone by that I haven't cried and prayed
that God take me and spare another mother
this pain. I miss you so much. Jason I've tried
so hard to be strong but I don't think I can
much longer, I'm loosing our home and will
be moving not sure were yet will be homeless
for a while I don't know what to for with your
dog if I can't find a place that let you have pets
miss you love you forever mom