Monday, October 26, 2009

Army Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez Chavez

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez Chavez, 23, of Reno, Nev.

Sgt. Chavez was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., died Oct. 26, 2009 of wounds suffered when the MH-47 helicopter he was aboard crashed in Darreh-ye Bum, Afghanistan. Also killed were Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael P. Montgomery, Sgt. 1st Class David E. Metzger, Staff Sgt. Keith R. Bishop, Chief Warrant Officer Niall Lyons, Staff Sgt. Shawn H. McNabb and Sgt. Nickolas A. Mueller.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL --Las Vegas Army Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez-Chavez was a veteran combat soldier with six deployments under his belt when his helicopter crashed Monday, killing him and nine others from a special operations team who were returning from a fierce firefight with the Taliban in western Afghanistan.

He was also a 23-year-old guy with a muscular physique, a love of fast cars and a hopeful outlook, judging by the Myspace and Facebook profiles of him and his friends.

He was called “Sway” online, an apparent reference to how his first name was pronounced. He last logged onto his Myspace page a week before he died.

He listed his mood as “stoked” and wrote that “November is going to be a great month.” He listed his interests as “Cars, Cars, Cars, Boobs, Cars, Beer, and Cars. Yup, typical guy.”

He wrote that he was in a relationship, and had no children.

His mother, Eustolia Hernandez, was expected to escort his remains to his hometown, after President Barack Obama observed the transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Del., and a ceremony was held Thursday at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., home of the famed Night Stalkers 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, officials said.

Three who died in the crash at Darreh-ye Bum, Afghanistan, were U.S. drug enforcement agents. Eleven other U.S. troops, a U.S. civilian and 14 Afghans were injured in the crash, which occurred on the same day that two Marine helicopters collided in the southern province of Helmand.

The crashes, which killed 14 Americans, marked the heaviest single-day death toll for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since June 28, 2005, when 16 special forces troops died when their helicopter was shot down by enemy forces. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane Patton, of Boulder City, was killed in that attack.

A statement posted today on the Army Special Operations Command’s Web site said the Hernandez family acknowledges “the overwhelming and sincere outpouring of sympathy from the local community.”

“We sincerely appreciate the nation’s interest in Josue’s life and his contributions to our great nation,” the statement reads. They asked that the media respect their privacy.

According to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Hernandez-Chavez was a native of Las Vegas who joined the Army in February 2005. The Pentagon on Thursday listed his residence as Reno, but national locator records show his mother has lived in the Las Vegas Valley since at least 1995.

Their home in east Las Vegas appeared quiet today, though there were several cars parked behind a closed gate that surrounded the property.

There was an outpouring of grief online after his death become public.

A young blond woman who is pictured with him in romantic embraces wrote that her mood is “destroyed” and listed her status on Myspace as “i cant stop crying baby i miss you so much please come back to me!!”

The woman, identified on Myspace as Ioana Rotaru, wrote on Hernandez-Chavez’s page: “i miss you so much :((((( sweetie ... we will see each other soon :( RIP baby...”

Others poured out their emotions, as well:

“i miss u already”

“I remember all the plans we made for u when you were coming in Dec.”!

“always and forever in our hearts man”

He posted photos of his time in the military, at a Nine Inch Nails concert, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Puerto Rico, of him as a small child holding a teddy bear, and a dozen photos of a souped-up Audi, which he called “my baby.”

In his first year with his Army unit, he was a medium helicopter repairman. But, in August 2006 his title changed to flight engineer.

All six of his combat deployments were in support of the global war on terrorism.

His awards include two Army Commendation medals, the Army Good Conduct medal, the National Defense Service medal, the Afghanistan Campaign medal with campaign star, the Iraqi Campaign medal with campaign star, the Combat Action badge, the Basic Aviation badge and the Parachutist badge.

He was the 66th military personnel with ties to Nevada to die in the nation’s overseas wars since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, and the second to die in Afghanistan in a week’s span.

Army Pfc. Kimble A. Han, a 30-year-old former Cheyenne High School student from North Las Vegas, was killed in a roadside bomb attack Oct. 23.

The others from Hernandez-Chavez’s unit killed Monday were Chief Warrant Officer Michael P. Montgomery, 36, of Savannah, Ga.; Chief Warrant Officer Niall Lyongs, 40, of Spokane, Wash.; Staff Sgt. Shawn H. McNabb, 24, of Terrell, Texas; Sgt. Nikolas A. Mueller, 26, of Little Chute, Wis.; Sgt. 1st Class David E. Metzger, 32, of San Diego; and Staff Sgt. Keith R. Bishop, 28, of Medford, N.Y.

Hernandez-Chavez is survived by his father, Pedro Hernandez; mother, Eustolia; and sisters Cristina and Mayra Hernandez, all from Las Vegas.

Army Sgt. Josue E. Hernandez Chavez was killed in action on 10/26/09.

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