Sunday, December 19, 2010

Army Pfc. Conrado D. Javier Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Conrado D. Javier Jr., 19, of Marina, Calif.

Pfc Javier was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany; died Dec. 19, 2010 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

A 19-year-old soldier from Marina died during the weekend in Afghanistan after his vehicle was attacked with an improvised explosive device used by the enemy, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Pfc. Conrado D. Javier Jr., a 2009 graduate of Seaside High School, suffered fatal injuries in the Sunday attack in Kandahar province. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

"I still can't believe it," said Javier's 29-year-old sister, Araceli, in the doorway of the family's home on Crescent Avenue, where a car in the driveway carried a black and gold Army bumper sticker.

Javier, who was one of eight children, yearned to be in the military since he was 5 years old, his sister said.

At Seaside High, Javier was active in the ROTC program, was a member of the drill team and frequently volunteered to attend funerals and other occasions with the team, she said.

"He was real loyal and real compassionate," his sister said. Javier's parents, Julia and Conrado, traveled to Maryland to accompany their son's body home from Dover Air Force Base, she said. The family received word of his death Sunday and was still reeling, she said.

"We've had a rosary for him every night with close family members. We pray for him," his sister said.

Javier grew up in Seaside and longed to become an Army officer and an attorney, she said.

She said their mother told them that military service was part of the family's Mexican heritage, but she worried about Javier joining the service.

Her brother joined the Army months after graduating from high school. He came home on leave at Thanksgiving before deploying to Afghanistan, she said.

His parents worked as farmworkers when the family was younger, then shifted to hospitality industry jobs.

His father has been working at the Navy Lodge in Monterey for the past year after losing a job in the 2009 closure of Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley.

Ron Rickow, general manager at the Navy Lodge, recalled seeing the young soldier at Thanksgiving. "He was all excited about joining the Army and seeing the world," Rickow said.

His father is a popular member of the lodge staff, and news of his son's death was greeted somberly. "I didn't sleep too well last night," Rickow said. "We are like a family here."

Rickow said within an hour after he received the go-ahead, employees pooled their leave time to assure Javier's father that he won't lose any pay "until he's ready to return."

Javier is the fifth Monterey County service member to die in the nine-year war in Afghanistan known as Operation Enduring Freedom. Last week, a funeral was held at Fort Ord for Staff Sgt. Vincent Ashlock of Seaside, who died Dec. 4 in a non-combat incident in Afghanistan's Khost province.

Javier "just wanted to serve his country," his sister said, recalling how he loved the Fourth of July and fireworks.

After his Thanksgiving leave, she said, her brother "left happy" bound for Afghanistan, saying he would be back next summer for a family trip to Mexico.

Army Pfc. Conrado D. Javier Jr. was killed in action on 12/19/10.

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