Sunday, July 31, 2011

Army Sgt. William B. GrossPaniagua

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. William B. GrossPaniagua, 28, of Daly City, Calif.

Sgt. GrossPaniagua was assigned to 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died July 31, 2011 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.


Army Sgt. William GrossPaniagua worked one of the most dangerous jobs a soldier can perform -- he cleared roadside bombs.

On Sunday, the grim odds of that assignment caught up with him in the rugged, mountainous Kunar Province of northeastern Afghanistan. The 28-year-old Daly City resident died in the early morning hours when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle.

"Sgt. Gross' job was very difficult and oftentimes nerve-racking, but the importance of it was immeasurable," Army spokesman Maj. David Eastburn said in an interview Tuesday from Afghanistan. "He made the roads safe for not only the U.S. military and Afghan security forces to travel but also the good people of Afghanistan. His dedication to his job and belief in the cause (are) something that will never be forgotten."

GrossPaniagua was part of a "route-clearance package" that removes IEDs from roads to allow humanitarian aid to pass through an area safely, Eastburn said.

He was driving a mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle when the bomb exploded, Eastburn said. Two other soldiers were injured.

Last year, CBS reported that roadside bombs posed the biggest threat to U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

According to the report, the makeshift explosives accounted for about 60 percent of military deaths there.

"The thing about what we do over here is that there are multiple threats at any given time," Eastburn said. "A finance clerk or cook could

be killed by an enemy mortar attack just as a pilot could be killed when a helicopter is shot down or a route-clearance package is hit with an IED."

GrossPaniagua was a combat engineer and had just been promoted to sergeant, the military said. He belonged to Alpha Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

A grieving sibling answered the door Tuesday at his Daly City home, a two-story house off Mission Street that was still adorned with Christmas decorations.

"We just want people to pray for the whole family," said a woman who identified herself as his sister but declined to give her name. "He was a good guy everybody loved. He was a sweet guy."

The woman said her brother was born in Nicaragua and came to the U.S. when he was 9 years old.

She declined to talk further.

GrossPaniagua enlisted in the Army in 2005. At the time of his death he was on his third tour of duty, the military said.

His first two deployments were to Iraq.

He earned numerous military citations, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Army Sgt. William B. GrossPaniagua was killed in action on 7/31/11.

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