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The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 have robbed the Mission area of six of its sons, brothers and fathers. The military support in Operation Iraqi Freedom from this area suffered from hostile after being struck by roadside bombs or improvised explosive devises (IEDs) or insurgent attacks.
Their deaths changed the course of life for their families and the community who welcomed them home before being laid to rest.
Immediately following their deaths, mourning parents said their sons served their country with honor and without reservation.
As the country remembers the lives lost in the terrorist attacks of a decade ago, the Progress Times would like to celebrate Mission’s soldiers and their families for their ultimate sacrifice.
U.S. Army Sgt. Javier Marin Jr., 29, was the first Mission casualty in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marin died Jan. 24, 2005 following a non-hostile vehicle accident near Diyala, Khan Bani Saad, Iraq. Marin served with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, 1st Infantry Division in Vilseck, Germany.
Marin’s awards and decorations include a Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman Badge.
He enlisted in 1999 and had completed a three-year tour of duty during which he served in Bosnia before enlisting for another three years.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Omar Flores, 27, died July 8, 2006 as the result of an IED attack near his vehicle in Anbar, Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany.
Awards include the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year 2005 Award for his brigade.
During his first deployment, Flores had been part of the original Army force that invaded Iran. He served in the Army for 10 years.
U.S. Army Cpl. Jose A. Rubio, 24, died March 24, 2008 in Baghdad when his vehicle encountered a makeshift bomb. He was a member of the 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Ga.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct and War on Terrorism medals.
Rubio had been in the U.S. Army for two and one-half years and was posthumously promoted to corporal.
U.S. Army Spc. Alex D. Gonzalez, 21, died May 6, 2008 after encountering small arms fire and a grenade attack in Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to the 43rd Combat Engineer Company, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Hood.
Gonzalez’s awards include the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bradley Espinoza, 26, of Alton who attended school in Mission, died Oct. 19, 2009 in Qwest, Iraq after his vehicle was struck by an IED. Espinoza was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Hood.
Espinoza's awards and decorations include Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.
He joined the Army in 2002 as a combat engineer.
U.S. Army Pfc. Diego M. Montoya, 20, died Sept. 2, 2010 in the Laghman province of Afghanistan following an insurgent attack on his unit. He served with the 720th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade based in Fort Hood.
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, NATO Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Combat Action Badge.
He joined the Army in 2009 as a military policeman.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.