GI Killed in Afghanistan Remembered
By Kent Harris
Stars and Stripes
June 15, 2005
VICENZA, Italy — Cpl. Emmanuel Hernandez-Cales was honored Monday by
hundreds of people who attended his memorial service.
The 22-year-old, who died Wednesday in a rocket attack in Afghanistan, was
remembered as "an excellent leader, a distinguished soldier and a great friend."
For Jessica Hernandez, her high school sweetheart and husband of 18 months
was someone who could always make her laugh.
"We were a very happy couple," she said after the service honoring her
husband. "It's very hard."
Command Sgt. Maj. Iuniasolua Savusa, the top enlisted soldier at the Southern
European Task Force (Airborne) and Combined/Joint Task Force-76 in Afghanistan,
said all those currently deployed share the family's grief.
"It's always hard for all of us who are fighting a war to lose a comrade," he
said. Hernandez, a member of Battery D, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, is the
sixth member of SETAF to lose his life since it took over command of operations
in Afghanistan on March 15.
Hernandez and Sgt. Michael J. Kelley, a member of the Army National Guard,
died when insurgents fired rockets at a CH-47 Chinook helicopter that had landed
at a forward operating base near Shkin. Eight people were wounded in the attack.
The soldiers had been waiting to unload cargo from the helicopter when they were
hit by shrapnel.
Savusa and a few other soldiers who attended the service were dressed
in desert camouflage because they were on rest-and-recuperation leave.
Most of the other soldiers at the service, representing a large majority of
those remaining in Vicenza, were in the normal battle dress uniform.
A few others sported the service's new camouflage uniforms. They included
Gen. B.B. Bell, U.S. Army Europe commander; USAREUR Command Sgt. Maj. Michael
Gravens; and Maj. Gen. David Zabecki, SETAF rear detachment commander. Bell,
Gravens and Russell Hall, Installation Management Agency-Europe director, were
all in Vicenza on other business and rearranged their schedules to attend the
Jessica Hernandez said she was happy with all the support.
"I want people to know that I'm really proud of my husband," she said with
the help of an interpreter. "I know he was a strong soldier."
Maj. Jacky Howard, who recently gave up command of the battery, said
Hernandez was "a superior NCO-in-the-making."
He recalled a time before the deployment to Afghanistan when Hernandez was
called to pick up another soldier at the airport in Venice. When the soldier
arrived, he saw Hernandez all decked out in winter weather gear.
All the windows of his car had been broken in a burglary and he had to drive
down the autostrada with a cold wind streaming through.
Howard said Hernandez had been involved in a debate shortly before he
died with several other soldiers about whether to stay in the Army. Hernandez
had said he had no doubts about re-enlisting. Three soldiers re-enlisted in his
honor at the forward operating base on the day he died.
Hernandez is survived by his mother, Eli Cales; and two sisters, Eleydis and
Eligia Hernandez. He is scheduled to be buried Sunday in Puerto Rico.
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