Grafenwoehr community mourns fallen Soldier, devoted husband
April 21, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - "On April 5th, 2009, the Wolf Pack lost one of its best Soldiers, siblings lost a loyal brother, a mother lost a loving son, a wife lost the love of her life and I lost a best friend. "
These were the words of Sgt. Erick Dybvig, as read by Sgt. Justin Rajotte, during a memorial service, April 14 for Spc. Isreal Candelaria-Majias. The service, held at the Grafenwoehr chapel, honored the life of Candelaria, 28, who was killed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, April 5.
Candelaria, of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, was a member of 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1-2 Infantry, Task Force 3-66 Armor, 172nd Infantry Brigade.
A somber and emotional crowd listened as members of the rear detachment read words spoken by friends and commanders of Candelaria at the unit's memorial service held in Iraq April 10.
Dybvig's words continued, "I speak of Isreal Candelaria. One of the greatest men I have had the pleasure of knowing ... he was a man of character." Dybvig went on to discuss Candelaria's strong commitment as a Soldier, friend and family man.
1st Lt. William Archer read the words of Cpt. Daniel Godbey, Candelaria's commander of 14 months, which echoed Dybvig, saying Candelaria was "one of the strongest Soldiers I've ever seen - not necessarily physical strength, although he had that, but the emotional and spiritual strength to see any mission through to the end and carry his fellow soldiers through as well."
Godbey, along with others at the memorial, also spoke of Candelaria's relentless smile saying, "Candelaria was a man with enough happiness for a whole platoon."
Friends and commanders agreed that even after years of combat and stress, his spirit never diminished.
Having Candelaria in the company, said Godbey, meant also having the support of his wife, Maria Candelaria, who was an important member of the company, as well as the Schwienfurt and Grafenwoehr communities.
The words of Lt. Col. Louis B. Rago II, as read by Lt. Col. Eric Stetson, addressed Candelaria's wife and mother, reminding them that Candelaria's memory, and both of them, will always be a part of the Black Knight family.
In his closing words, Chaplain (Col.) Glenn Woodson, said to the grieving community that Candelaria "was killed fighting for you and me. That is something that we simply can never forget ... this young man lived a very good life."
Candelaria joined the U.S. Army in October, 2003. His awards include the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart. He is survived by his wife Angela and mother Maria Majias. Candelaria's death marks the first combat-related death from 172nd Infantry Brigade since they deployed in November, 2008.