Monday, January 31, 2011

Army Spc. Omar Soltero

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Omar Soltero, 28, of San Antonio, Texas

Spc Soltero was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.; died Jan. 31, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.

A San Antonio family is mourning the loss of a son who was killed in combat in Afghanistan.

Relatives of Army Spc. Omar Soltero, 28, were coping Tuesday with the notification that Soltero died Monday from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with a roadside bomb in Wardak province in central Afghanistan.

“From when he was a little kid, he said when he turned 18 he wanted to join. He wanted to fight the bad guys,” said his father, Gustavo Soltero.

He said his son, one of four children, enlisted about 10 years ago and the family relocated here from California eight years ago. The family's notification of the death “was like in the movies,” Soltero said. “When they arrived to tell us, all you have to do is look at them and you know.”

“He loved his country. That's about all there is to say,” the father said as relatives from Texas, California and Mexico began gathering at the family's Northeast Side home.

He added that his son was in a relationship with a female soldier and they had two children. Soltero leaves behind two kids and one of them is only 1.5 years-old. "His mom tried to tell them he's in heaven now," said Adrian of the mother of Soltero's children. "He was a hero," said Adrian. "He did what he had to do to serve his country."

His son sometimes mentioned the dangers he faced in Afghanistan, “but he still wanted to be there,” Soltero said. “I never imagined this,” the father said.

His family says Omar never wanted anyone to be concerned about his safety. "He said, 'Don't worry, I'll be back,'" his younger brother Adrian said. "That was the last thing he said (before deploying.)"

Adrian translated for his parents, Gustavo and Maria. Maria said Omar always told her not to worry about any problems and always reassured her, "It's okay mom."

Adrian said Omar loved track and cross country in high school and made friends easily.

"If you shook his hand, he took you as a friend," he said.

Omar was one of four children and had two young boys of his own. His family says he was a good father and was planning to come home on leave in May for his 29th birthday.

Adrian says Omar served two tours in Kosovo, but wanted to avoid Afghanistan because of the violence there.

"I think out of all my brothers, I looked up to him the most," Adrian said. "He always looked after me because his older brothers, my older brothers, always looked after him, so he felt like it was his responsibility to look after me."

Omar Soltero was the 18th casualty in Afghanistan — and the first in 2011 — to call San Antonio home.

U.S. Army Spc. Omar Soltero was a 28-year-old San Antonio native assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment’s Task Force Warrior, when he died during an improvised explosive device attack while on a dismounted patrol in the Tangi area. Soltero was working out of Combat Outpost Tangi under the operational control of Co. C, 2nd Bn., 4th. Inf., while deployed in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army 1st Sgt. John Mickle, first sergeant for TF Warrior’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company from Newton, Iowa, called Soltero “an inspiring young Soldier with the ability to accomplish any mission tasked.” He said Soltero was “always in the front (and) always ready.”

Mickle cited Soltero as an example for all Soldiers to follow. “His unique smile, and kindness toward all he knew, will be missed by all Task Force Warriors. (He was) a great Soldier and (an) even better friend.”

Sgt. James King, a Pawling, N.Y., native and sniper team leader for HHC, 2nd Bn., 4th Inf., OPCON to Co. C, said it is not an easy mission for him to put into words the impact Soltero had on his team. However, King’s poignant accounting of Soltero and his significance proves both he and Soltero were capable of “soldiering up” when faced with a tough task in a combat zone during a time of war.

"I can say simply that he was a great man to have watching your back and a true example of what it means to be a soldier."

Soltero’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart; Army Achievement Medal, with four Oak Leaf Clusters; Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal, with Bronze Service Star; Afghan Campaign Medal, with Star Device; Kosovo Campaign Medal, with Bronze Service Star; Global War on Terror Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, with Numeral 2; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon, with two Bronze Service Stars; Armed Forces Reserve Medal, with Mobilization Device; NATO Medal, with two Bronze Service Stars; Ranger Tab; Combat Infantryman Badge; Expert Infantryman Badge; Parachutist Badge; and Air Assault Badge.

Army Spc. Omar Soltero was killed in action on 1/31/11.

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