Thursday, August 23, 2007

Army Sgt. 1st Class Adrian M. Elizalde

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. 1st Class Adrian M. Elizalde, 30, of North Bend, Ore.

SFC Elizalde was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Aug. 23, 2007 in Baghdad of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Tully.

Soldier from North Bend killed in war
The Associated Press

NORTH BEND, Ore. — A soldier from North Bend died last week when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle southeast of Baghdad.

Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Elizalde, 30, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), out of Fort Lewis, Wash. A soldier from Pennsylvania also died in the explosion.

The Defense Department initially announced that Elizalde was from North Bend, Ind., which created confusion among friends and family members.

Jorge Elizalde said the mistake created a whirlwind of calls from people wondering whether his son had died.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot here,” he said. “My son was special to us and we know he touched a lot of people. Everybody’s coming forward.”

One of those people is Sally Prouty, a retired North Bend principal who taught Elizalde in second grade.

“He was extremely bright and he liked to break dance and do the moonwalk all the time,” Prouty told The Oregonian newspaper. “What a waste because he really was a wonderful boy. As an adult, he would’ve added a lot to this or any other community where he landed. He was there for everybody whenever they were in need.”

Elizalde joined the Army in 1996, one year after graduating from North Bend High School. He is survived by his parents, Jorge and Teresa Elizalde, and sister Rachel, all of Renton, Wash.; and his daughter Sydney Grace, 6, of Klamath Falls.

“In short, he’s the most wonderful man you’d want to have on your side,” Rachel Elizalde told The World newspaper of Coos Bay. “He stands up for what he believes in. He was a phenomenal father. He was the best.”

Sgt. 1st Class Tim Freeland, who visited the Elizaldes after learning of their loss, said he befriended Elizalde during their first duty assignment at Fort Bragg, N.C. The two men served in the same unit, boxed on the same team, worked together and eventually became roommates.

“It comes in waves,” Freeland said of his sadness. “Sometimes you are OK and sometimes you are not. It sucks, y’know? We lost a good person.”

Teresa Elizalde said her son was serious about his military career, but had talked about becoming a teacher after his stint in the Army, and possibly a wrestling coach.

Elizalde started wrestling at age 8, his father said, and became a standout. In high school, he won a district championship in the 126-pound weight class, qualifying for the state tournament.

“He was a very disciplined person,” Jorge Elizalde said. “Whatever he set his sights on, he went after it. He wanted to be the best at whatever he attempted.”

North Bend Mayor Rick Wetherell, who used to coach Elizalde in football and baseball, said the death leaves a big hole in the city.

“Everybody has a position on this war and at times like this it doesn’t really matter where you stand,” Wetherell said. “You don’t realize the cost until it comes home like it has now.”

North Bend honors soldier kilkled in Iraq
The Associated Press

NORTH BEND, Ore. — In the high school gymnasium where he once wrestled, hundreds of people gathered Sept. 1 to remember the life of Army Sgt. 1st Class Adrian Elizalde, who was killed in Iraq Aug. 23.

The Army Special Forces engineer grew up in the community and graduated from North Bend High School in 1995. The funeral drew old friends, community members, his family and Gov. Ted Kulongoski. Nearly everyone who spoke stopped to rest a hand on the flag-swathed casket.

Elizalde died when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Al Aziziyah, Iraq. He had been in Iraq since February.

He was assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash., and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Kulongoski said these days of war are “times that try men’s souls.”

“This is a painful day for North Bend High School and the North Bend community. Today, you are grieving for one of you own.

“This community has lost someone who brought a special courage, grace and commitment to everything he did.” Kulongoski said.

He said Elizalde is the first Green Beret from Oregon to die in Iraq.

Elizalde’s parents, Jorge and Teresa Elizalde, did not speak at the funeral, or at the burial at Sunset Memorial Park.

But his older sister, Rachel Elizalde, her face and eyes tinged red from crying, approached the casket. She pressed her lips to the flag before speaking.

“My brother was my hero and when I look out and see all of you, I’m so proud that I shared my hero with you,” she said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Adrian M. Elizalde was killed in action on 8/23/07.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

SFC Elizalde was my team leader at ft. Bragg. He taught me so much about the army and myself. It is so painful to know that he is gone.