FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers, civilians and family members gathered together to mourn the loss of Spc. Juan Ortega Jr. at a memorial service held in his honor on Fort Hood, Texas, March 3.

Growing up in Abilene, Texas, Ortega joined the Army in February of 2007, and completed Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in July of that year. He was then assigned to 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor, as a combat engineer and deployed with them in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007 to 2008 and again from 2009 to 2010.

In February 2011, he was reassigned to the 2nd Special Troops Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.

"We are here today to mourn our loss, but also to celebrate the life of a Soldier," said Lt. Col. Mark Davey, the commander of the 2nd STB. "Juan was assigned to Charlie Company...for only 10 days before his accident, yet he immediately made a very positive impression on his new unit."

"As a Soldier, Spc. Ortega reached for the stars," said Cpt. Patrick Stevens, the commander of Company C, 2nd STB. "His commitment to his peers and unit was remarkable. Without any hesitation I can say that Spc. Ortega gave the Army better Soldiers and a better unit wherever he went."

"We grieve today along with the Ortega family because we have lost one of our own," said Davey. "We will all miss Juan, but our bond will not allow us to forget him because this bond is lasting."

"We lost a young man in his prime, a son, a brother and a Soldier," he continued. "Let us never forget Spc. Juan Ortega's service to our country and the bond we share with him, our fallen comrade."

His military awards included the Army Commendation Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal with one Campaign Star, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Marksmanship Qualification Badge, and the Driver and Mechanic Badge.

Ortega is survived by his parents, Juan Ortega Sr. and Mary Ortega, and his siblings, Javier Ortega and Gabby Ortega.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16