Sunday, February 24, 2008

Army Spc. Orlando A. Perez

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Orlando A. Perez, 23, of Houston

Spc. Perez was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany; died Feb. 24, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds sustained from small arms fire during dismounted operations.

VILSECK, Germany — Spc. Orlando A. Perez was a loving son, a faithful husband, a loyal friend and a brave infantryman who hoped to attend college and start a family when he got home.

Perez was killed in action Sunday in Baghdad. His unit, the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment held a memorial service for him Friday.

“How lucky we were to know and serve with Tony Perez,” said Lt. Col. Tom Rickard, the regiment’s rear detachment commander.

Perez was born Dec. 10, 1984, in Houston. He enlisted in the Army on Aug. 25, 2005, joined the Strykers in Fort Lewis, Wash., and moved to Vilseck, Germany, with the unit.

“Spc. Perez participated in numerous ranges, live-fire exercises and situational training exercises (in Germany),” according to the program for the ceremony.

Capt. Raul Vasquez, the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cav Rear Detachment commander, had teary eyes as he stood in the rain outside the chapel after the ceremony. During the ceremony he said he was experiencing the same emotions he felt at ceremonies for two other fallen Strykers, Sgt. 1st Class Randy Lewis Johnson and Spc. Avealao Milo.

Johnson, 34, of Washington, died Sept. 27, 2007, in Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle and Milo, 23, of American Samoa, was killed Oct. 4, 2007, when he and his fellow soldiers came under small-arms fire.

Vasquez said the best word to describe Perez was “friend.”

“He was looking to go to college and start a family when he came back from Iraq,” he said.

Perez used rest and recuperation leave from Iraq to spend a week with his mother, Nicolasa Arevalo, in New York and a week with his wife, April, in Texas, Vasquez said during the ceremony.

“Tony never let April forget his perpetual love for her,” he said.

On the battlefield Perez was the first to clear rooms, he said.

“Why [did Perez die] at the young age of 23? Why after only seven months of marriage? Why before [having] … children,” Vasquez asked.

However, Perez accomplished his primary mission in life, Vasquez said. “Your mother is proud, and April knows you are her immortal love,” he said.

Perez is also survived by a brother, Edward Marta, and a sister, Angelica Marta, according to the program.

Army Spc. Orlando A. Perez was killed in action on 2/24/08.

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