By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsApril 21, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, suffered its fifth casualty during their current deployment to Iraq.
Their latest casualty, Spc. Jessica Sarandrea, 22, of Miami, was killed during a mortar attack March 3, in Mosul, Iraq.
Her mother, Xiomara; stepfather, Antonio; and brother, Brandon; traveled to Fort Hood, from Miami, to attend her memorial service held April 16 at Ironhorse Chapel where hundreds of fellow Soldiers and friends showed up to remember the Soldier whose heart and personality was "larger than life."
Staff Sgt. Donald Carlisle, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd HBCT, who was Sarandrea's section sergeant before her unit deployed last year, spoke about what type of Soldier she was but more importantly, the impact she made on so many people around her as a person.
"I will greatly miss Specialist Sarandrea - not only because of how good of a Soldier she was, but also because she was a wonderful person," he said. "Her most distinct trait was her charm."
As a Soldier, Carlisle described her as a "natural" leader. "With little guidance, she often took the initiative to accomplish difficult tasks - tasks that had a huge impact in the battalion," he said. "During our preparation for deployment, she did it all."
Her former commander, Capt. Santos Arroyo, who serves as the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd HBCT, also remembered Sarandrea for her ability to comfort others in times of need.
"Jessica loved making others feel good even on the worst day," Arroyo recounted. "You will hear of how she will share a hug even when she didn't know you. All it took was for her to know you were in need."
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Chris Cieply, 1st Cav. Div. Rear Detachment, told stories from friends and fellow Soldiers who echoed those same comments.
"Thank you for your hugs you were famous for and your love which blessed my heart, soul and spirit," Cieply read from anonymous Soldier. "When my mission is over and our father takes me home, I'll see you there."
This was Sarandrea's second Iraqi deployment. She was assigned to the 89th Transportation Company, Fort Eustis, Va., when she deployed in 2006.
Her awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas service Ribbon and the Combat Action Badge.