Thursday, August 11, 2011

Army Pfc. Rueben J. Lopez

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Rueben J. Lopez, 27, of Williams, Calif.

Pfc Lopez was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Aug. 11, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Sgt. Edward J. Frank II, Spc. Jameel T. Freeman, Spc. Patrick L. Lay II and Spc. Jordan M. Morris.

A fire siren will sound in Williams on Monday when Army Pfc. Rueben "Boy" Lopez comes home. Lopez was killed on Aug. 11 in southern Afghanistan with four other soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division when an explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

Local law enforcement will escort Lopez's casket from Beale Air Force Base through Colusa to Williams.

The plane carrying Lopez is scheduled to land at Beale at 12:30 p.m. Monday and the casket is slated to leave the base by 1 p.m. and travel through Marysville and Yuba City and on to Colusa County. The casket will be escorted by Yuba City police and Yuba-Sutter California Highway Patrol officers to the outskirts of Yuba City, where it will be handed off to Williams CHP officers and the Williams Fire Department and Police Department.

The procession will travel down Husted Road to E Street, through Williams and past his former school and home before connecting back to Highway 20 to return to Colusa.

A public service will be held for Lopez at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Bernadette's Hall at the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish School.

Since his death, Williams, Colusa County and the state have recognized Lopez for his bravery and service to his country, and have rallied to support his grieving family and friends.

The flag over the state Capitol in Sacramento flew at half-staff Wednesday to honor Lopez, who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom when he was killed in combat operations.

The lowering of the flag was ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown, who sent a letter of condolence to Lopez's family.

The state Senate recognized Lopez's service and that of his family, and was adjourned in his memory on Wednesday.

"His family has a long rich history in service to our nation," said Sen. Doug LaMalfa, on the senate floor.

LaMalfa said Lopez was yet another victim of a roadside bomb.

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen adjourned Thursday's Assembly session in Lopez's memory, and called Lopez a "warrior and pillar of the community."

The Williams City Council honored Lopez with a moment of silence during its regular meeting on Wednesday, and praised the community for its continued support of the grieving family.

"I am a fourth-generation resident of Williams, and I have never been so proud of this community," said Williams Councilwoman Pat Ash.

Since his death on Aug. 11, family, friends and community members have remembered Lopez at a makeshift memorial in the new Town Square, where more than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil.

Williams officials hope to eventually honor Lopez, Williams military veterans and its five other soldiers killed in action by constructing a permanent Veterans Memorial Park on C Street.

Thursday's final summer concert in Venice Park was publicly dedicated to Lopez.

"Rueben loved music," Ash said. "What better way to honor and remember the boy who dressed up like Elvis than with music and laughter."

Lopez enlisted in the U.S. Army on Aug. 10, 2010. After completing training at Fort Benning, Ga. he was assigned to Fort Drum, NY.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011, assigned to the 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Combat Team.

Lopez's awards and decorations include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Lopez is the latest serviceman from Williams to have died in the line of duty.

Williams lost one active-duty soldier in Vietnam and four in World War II.

More than 300 men and women buried in the Williams cemetery served in the U.S. armed forces, officials said.

Lopez is the son of Reuben Lopez and Gloria Estrada of Williams.

He is survived by four sisters, Leticia, Monica, Kelly and Renee, and grandparents Margaret Del Rio of Williams and Alex and Rita Estrada of Colusa.

Kelly Lopez is an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Army Pfc. Rueben J. Lopez was killed in action on 8/11/11.

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