Sunday, May 30, 2010

Army Pfc. Alvaro R. Regalado Sessarego

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Alvaro R. Regalado Sessarego, 37, of Virginia Beach, Va.

Pfc. Sessarego was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas; died May 30, 2010 at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, of injuries sustained April 18, 2010 in a noncombat-related incident at Dahuk, Iraq.

Family members say Regalado was not like the rest of his fellow soldiers at boot camp.

"It was his goal to give back to this country that was doing so much for him," said mother-in-law Jackie Dayton. "He saw it as way to take care of his family."

He was not yet an American citizen when he enlisted in the Army at the age of 36.

"I never thought he would get into the Army at such a late age," Dayton said. "I never did, but his intellect spoke volumes for him."

He moved to Virginia Beach from native country Peru. There he spent time in the Peruvian Navy, and he met his wife Teresa Dayton.

"Alvaro was the love of her life," his wife said. "Alvaro was that love that you only get once. He took her breath away when he walked in the room. I don't know how you get over it."

Regalado was stationed in Fort Bliss and made is first deployment to Iraq. It would be his last.

"It just wasn't meant to be," Teresa Dayton-Regalado said.

In April, Pfc. Sessarego was working in a mess hall when there was a fire in which he was severely burned. He was flown back to Texas, but last over the weekend he died from his injuries.

"This is devastating," Dayton said. "My daughter is crushed. She doesn't know what to do."

Before his death, Regalado fulfilled his dream of becoming an American citizen.

"He will never be replaced," Dayton added. "He will never be forgotten. He will be forever one of my sons. He is a son that I am incredibly proud of."

Alvaro Regalado Sessarego, a former Peruvian sailor, missed the military life after migrating to America, so he joined the U.S. Army.

A month after taking the oath of American citizenship last fall, he shipped out to Iraq.

"He was happy to go," said his wife, Teresa Dayton-Regalado. "He wanted to give something back to his new country."

In April, only four months into his tour, Pfc. Regalado Sessarego was severely burned in a mess hall fire. He died of his injuries Sunday in the burn unit of Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was 37.

The fire at a military base near Mosul in northern Iraq is still under investigation. Regalado Sessarego suffered second- and third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body.

The Army classified his death as non-combat-related.

He met his wife in 2006 while the two of them were working on a job together. She is a house cleaner; he was a painter.

"He wanted to go out with me, and I said no at first," Dayton-Regalado said. "He kept asking, and finally I said yes. Four weeks later we got married."

Her mother, Jackie Dayton, called it a perfect match.

Pfc. Sessarego lived in Virginia Beach with his wife Theresa and her three teenage boys.

Derrick Dayton says he was the father they've always wanted.

"He was a great man, a great father to me, my younger brother and my older brother," he said.

"I was really pleased that Teresa had finally found the love of her life," she said.

Regalado Sessarego had started a small construction business in Virginia Beach before joining the Army.

"He wanted to make a better life for himself," his wife said.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, based at Fort Bliss, Texas.

His wife said he didn't share many details of his Iraq deployment with her. "He didn't want me to worry," she said.

"He was very proud of becoming a citizen," his mother-in-law said.

Pfc. Sessarego is survived by his mother, Aurora P. Cruz, Virginia Beach, his wife Teresa Lynn and three stepsons: Andrew Dayton, 19, Derrick Dayton, 17, and Richard Dayton, 13. (Andrew will graduate from Landstown High School this month) He also has a 13-year-old daughter who lives in Peru.

His body will be sent to Peru for burial. His adopted country will honor him in a memorial ceremony at Fort Bliss.

Army Pfc. Alvaro R. Regalado Sessarego died 5/30/10 from injuries sustained 4/18/10.

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