Saturday, July 16, 2011

Army Cpl. Raphael R. Arruda

Remember Our Heroes

Army Cpl. Raphael R. Arruda, 21, of Ogden, Utah

Cpl. Arruda was assigned to 416th Theater Engineer Command, U.S. Army Reserve, Ogden, Utah; died July 16, 2011 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Cpl Arruda, a combat engineer, was patrolling in a mine-resistant vehicle when it was struck by a roadside bomb. He died as a result of the blunt force trauma caused by the blast.

Cpl Arruda was the lead driver on the night he was killed. He only had a couple more mission to complete, after which he was to attend classes and briefings before returning home to Utah. He was the third Utah serviceman killed in Afghanistan this month.

Having deployed last fall, this was Cpl Arruda's first deployment to Afghanistan. He was killed seven days before his 22nd birthday.

Born in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, Raphael and his family came to the United States in 2001 and eventually settled in Utah.

Cpl. Arruda grew up in South Ogden, Utah and graduated from Bonneville High School in 2008. A few days after graduating, Raphael shipped off to basic training, most likely inspired by his older brother’s service in the Brazilian army.

Raphael Arruda loved soccer, dancing and playing guitar.

The family last saw Raphael in February when he returned home for two weeks leave.

Father, Sergio Arruda De Souza was in Brazil laying his mother to rest when he learned his son had been killed in Afghanistan.

“They died within 10 days of each other,” said Sergio Arruda, describing the loss as “a double kick to the stomach.”

On Saturday, July 23, his father put aside his grief to celebrate what would have been “Rapha’s” 22nd birthday with family and friends, a barbecue, a rousing birthday chant in Portuguese and forró, a form of traditional country music popular in their hometown in northeastern Brazil.

“We are here to be happy, to commemorate life, his joy for life. We are here to love each other,” Arruda told those who came to pay their respects. “Freedom is not free. It is generally paid for with blood and generally young blood. My son did what he believed and I am comforted by small acts of kindness from our community, this country, our family.”

"He was a happy person," said younger brother Andrey. "He liked having a good time. He really hates sad moments. He kind of made anywhere he was fun to be at. He always had a good mood, good jokes."

“We used to climb this tall tree in our backyard to see who could get highest, and I remember him falling one day 20 or 30 feet and just laughing,” said Andrey. “He was the fun one. If it were up to me, I’d probably prefer a quiet moment to reflect. But this today was more for him than for us."

Andrey said his brother liked what he did in the military and planned on studying engineering at the University of Utah after completing his service. Both he and his Raphael planned to find an appartment this fall and finish college.

Although not born in this country, Andrey said both brothers feel a sense of duty to their adopted homeland.

"Somebody has take care of it," Andrey said.

Andrey said his brother made his own decision to join the U.S. Army Reserve easier, lending support and guiding him through the recruitment process. Andrey is currently serving as a combat medic.

"He was a good example," Andrey said. "He always tried to do the right thing. He was a good friend."

“He was the life of the party, the guy who pushed everyone and made everyone laugh,” said Rick Maxfield, of West Point, the father of a soldier in Arruda’s 744th Engineering Company of the U.S. Army Reserves. “They’re having a hard time staying motivated back there.”

"He was the replacement driver for my son who was injured last March,” said Amy Miller. “That could easily have been us getting the knock on the door.”

“He did probably over 100 missions and suffered two concussions and never shied from driving the lead truck. He was scared, but did it because he was asked to. He was proud to be in Afghanistan,” said Cpl Rome Essex

Andrey said the death of his brother creates a whole that can't be filled, but in the wake of this family tragedy he remains dedicated to performing his duties in the military.

"We go in knowing this might happen," he said. "I try to go there to help people and if they do get harmed I want to make sure they make it back OK."

Cpl Arruda's body arrived here at Hill AFB this morning. He was escorted home to Ogden by the Patriot Guard Riders.

Cpl Arruda will be laid to rest at Lindquist’s Washington Heights Memorial Park in Ogden.

Cpl Arruda is survived by his parents, Carmen and Sergio; brothers, Andrey and Sergio.

Army Cpl. Raphael R. Arruda was killed in action on 7/16/11.

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