Saturday, December 11, 2010

Army Spc. Ethan L. Goncalo

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Ethan L. Goncalo, 21, of Fall River, Mass.

Spc. Goncalo was assigned to 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment, Massachusetts National Guard, Worcester, Mass; died Dec. 11, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained in a non-combat incident.

On a blustery cold and very wet day, the flags at half staff foretell the sadness. Fall River native Ethan Goncalo lost his life in Afghanistan but the details of his death have not yet been released. He had just turned 21.

The Army National Guardsman had recently gone overseas, deployed in October. Goncalo's family did not want to speak to reporters on camera but the city's Veterans Representative said they were holding strong. "They're mourning," said veterans agent Maunuel DaPonte. "They need answers but right now no one seems to have them."

"We appreciate the mourning of the state, all the community and this city has had so many in this past year," said DaPonte.

In fact four service members from Fall River have fallen since April of this year. National Guardsman Sargent Robert Barrett was the first killed in Afghanistan. Then Army Specialist Scott Andrews was killed also in Afghanistan in June. Then Marine Cpl. Paul Fagundes died while trying to rescue a fellow Marine in the waters off of Cuba in July.

"Hit hard for our city," said Fall River m mayor William Flanagan. "Our city will come together as it has in times past. Offer condolences to the family as we have done in times past."

"I feel a personal loss because I am retired," said DaPonte. "He is my soldier. He is my son. That is the best I can explain it you are anybody else that asks."

Ethan Goncalo, a 2008 graduate of B.M.C. Durfee High School, was serving with the 181st Infantry with the Massachusetts Army National Guard when he died. The cause of death was not immediately available.

“We don’t know how he died,” Mayor Will Flanagan said. The city received word Saturday from Veterans Agent Manuel DaPonte that Goncalo died while serving with the 181st Infantry. He enlisted in March and was deployed to Afghanistan in October. He was the son of Lou Goncalo and Kelly Reed.

Flanagan requested that all flags in the city fly at half-staff. He also arranged for a grief counselor to visit Durfee today. “He was very active at Durfee and being a recent graduate, he still has friends and classmates at Durfee,” Flanagan said.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Goncalo family,” Flanagan said. “Ethan’s death marks the fourth military funeral to be held this year in our city, and as mayor of Fall River, I issue my condolences to the Goncalo family and will honor any requests that they may have in Ethan’s memory.”

Other Fall River soldiers who died this year serving their country were Army Sgt. Robert Barrett, Army Specialist Scott Andrews and Marine Cpl. Paul Fagundes.

Goncalo is the third Massachusetts soldier in as many weeks to die in Afghanistan.

Michael Costa of Westport, a U.S. history teacher at B.M.C. Durfee High School, had Goncalo as a student in his senior year. “He was a great kid. Full of energy ... Always made you and the class laugh. He was just a genuine person,” Costa said.

Goncalo loved baseball and was a catcher on the Durfee team. “That was his first goal at college — to play baseball,” Costa said. “He played at Westfield State.” He had been enrolled at Westfield State for sociology and also attended Massasoit Community College.

Goncalo also was very active at the Thomas Chew Memorial Boys and Girls Club on Bedford Street.

He attended Bishop Connolly High School before earning his diploma from Durfee. Costa said Goncalo left college after his first year to enlist in the military. “He wanted to get his life on track. He felt that was the best way to go — enter the military,” Costa said.

Costa said he last spoke to Goncalo about a week ago.

“He was very excited to come home. He said he would visit Durfee to see me and talk to some classes about his experience (in Afghanistan),” Costa said. “He was a great kid. I’m going to miss him and the school will miss him.”

Army Spc. Ethan L. Goncalo was killed in a non-combat related incident on 12/11/10.

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