'First Team' honors fallen comrades
November 24, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - Fellow Soldiers, friends and Family members came to the 1st Cavalry Division
Memorial Chapel Nov. 18, to pay respects to four Soldiers who lost their life recently.
Pfc. Daniel Rivera, an armor crewman assigned to D Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat, 1st Cav. Div., was killed outside of Mosul in northern Iraq on Oct. 18 from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident.
Staff Sgt. Bradley Espinoza was born to be a Soldier. Shortly after graduating from high school he joined the Army. After training he was assigned E Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. He died in Qwest in northern Iraq, from wounds suffered when the vehicle he was in was struck by an improvised explosive device.
Spc. Jason Hunt joined the military in 2006. He successfully completed a tour in Iraq as an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team. He was killed by gunfire at the Soldier Readiness Center Nov. 5.
Pfc. Francheska Velez joined the military in February 2007. She was assigned to F Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, where she deployed in January 2009. Shortly after returning from Iraq, she was killed by gunfire at the Soldier Readiness Center Nov. 5.
These Soldiers will forever be a member of the 'First Team,' said Col. Jeffrey Sauer, the 1st Cav. Div. Rear Detachment commander.
"Today we honor and pay our respect to these outstanding Soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice," said Sauer.
As the First Team returns to the mission, they will not forget these fallen comrades.
"As we remember these individuals we become better individuals, a better Army and ultimately, carry on their legacy," said Sauer.
Pfc. Daniel Rivera loved the military and always wanted to be a Soldier.
"We all mourned his passing, but you should take comfort because he was exactly where he wanted to be doing exactly what he was doing," according to his team member, said Spc. Jose Guzman, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. "He loved the Army and always talked about being with his team."
Daniel Rivera is survived by his mother Myrian Rivera.
Espinoza is remembered as hero loved by all who possessed a strong warrior's spirit. He served with the unit's engineers clearing roads of improvised explosive devices. His efforts lead to the safety of many Soldiers, recalls Capt. Russell Toll, rear-detachment commander, E Co., 1-12 Cav. Regt.
"He possessed a willingness to put others before himself," said Toll. "He was always there with his Soldiers, in the trenches getting dirty and setting the example."
He is survived by his wife Maria Espinoza and their children, Joseph and Celeste.
Hunt recently married in August of this year and was looking forward to moving his family to the Fort Hood area, said Capt. Capt. Robert Stigers, rear-detachment commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st BCT.
"He was a dedicated and reserved Soldier," said Stigers. "When he spoke he got to the point and always got the job done."
Stigers described Hunt as a Soldier ready to do his part.
He went to Iraq, completed his missions and came back, said Stigers. He was awaiting his dwell time, but he was ready to go again and continue to serve.
Hunt is survived by his wife Jennifer and three children, Silver, Trinity and Tristan.
Pfc. Francheska Velez will be remembered for how she lived.
"Her death hit many of us very hard. Losing a comrade so close to home is hard to take," said Capt. Peter Friend, rear-detachment commander, 1-8 Cav. Regt.
"Remember her for the impact she made on our lives," said Friend. "Remember her as a battle buddy, always ready to go on that next mission. Remember her as a dedicated Soldier and a valued member of our unit."
Velez is survived by her parents, Eillen Rodriguez and Juan Velez, and her two brothers, Juan and Andrew Velez.