Saturday, November 12, 2011

Army Spc. Calvin M. Pereda

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Calvin M. Pereda, 21, of Fayetteville, N.C.

Spc Pereda was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska; died Nov. 12, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of injuries caused by an improvised explosive device.

‘He was a wonderful son’
By Arvin Temkar
(Hagatna, Guam) Pacific Daily News

TIYAN, Guam — Rosario “Rose” Pereda’s anguished cry broke the silence as soldiers carried in the casket holding the body of her son.

“Oh my God, my boy’s gone!” she wailed.

Hundreds gathered at an air cargo building in Tiyan on Nov. 26 to pay respects to Army Spc. Calvin Matthew Pereda, who died in Afghanistan on Nov. 12.

Rose Pereda, who had waited quietly in the air cargo building, couldn’t contain her emotions when the men appeared with the casket, which was draped with an American flag.

“Oh, my boy,” the grief-stricken mother moaned, her sobs muffled by her sons and family huddled around her.

“It’s OK to cry,” said Gov. Eddie Calvo, in a short speech following the recital of a prayer.

He offered his condolences on behalf of the entire island.

“This island cares for you, and is praying for you,” Calvo said.

Earlier that afternoon, Rose Pereda, dressed in black, sat in the living room of her mother’s house. Although there were several people in the room, it was silent, except for when she spoke. There was no Thanksgiving at the Pereda household this year. In place of the traditional feast, there was a rosary.

She told the story of her son — a quiet, caring man, dedicated to his job and his country.

Calvin Pereda, 21, enlisted in the Army in March 2010, determined to be an infantryman. He was sent to Afghanistan earlier this year, and was injured in September after an explosion sent shrapnel into his knee and shoulder.

Calvin Pereda bounced back, and soon after was promoted. He received a Purple Heart, was chosen as soldier of the month and signed up for Ranger school. Two weeks after sharing his good news with his mother, he was dead, killed by an improvised explosive device.

After his injury, “he wanted to hurry up and heal and go back out,” Rose Pereda said.

Before what would be his final mission, Calvin Pereda called home, as he often did. The mother and son made plans for Thanksgiving, and Rose Pereda promised him a barbecue. He was to return to Texas, where his family lives, on Nov. 18.

“He came home, but not the way we want him to,” Rose Pereda said.

The day after the conversation, Rose Pereda’s son Clifford Pereda yelled for her — “my sons never holler at me” — and came to her room, crying. She went to the living room and saw two officers, dressed in their uniforms, waiting to deliver a message.

“I didn’t want to believe it was my son,” she said. “I said, ‘No, it’s not him, because I just spoke to him yesterday.’ ”

In December, Rose Pereda will return to Texas, and her two youngest boys will go back to school. Her other two sons are in the Army, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. But now they want to leave the military, she said.

“They don’t want to put their brothers and myself through what we went through,” she said.

Then begins the process of coping, healing. She has a strong support group, she said, including family at home on Guam.

“I’m just going to miss him,” she said. “It’s not going to be the same Christmas or the same New Year’s.”

She dabbed her face with tissues.

“He was a wonderful son,” she said.

Army Spc. Calvin M. Pereda was killed in action on 11/12/11.

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