By Spc. Justin Naylor, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public AffairsNovember 16, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq- Soldiers, Airmen and civilians gathered to mourn the loss of Pvt. Francheska Velez in a memorial service held in her honor at Forward Operating Base Warrior, Kirkuk, Nov. 13.
Private Velez was killed during a tragic shooting on Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 5.
Her military awards included the National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Marksmanship Badge.
Private Velez was born August 20, 1988, and she grew up in Chicago.
She joined the Army in February 27, 2007, and she attended Basic Training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Va., where she graduated as a Petroleum Supply Specialist.
After graduating, she attended Petroleum Vehicle Operators Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and was stationed at Camp Casey, Korea, as her first assignment. She arrived at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 30, 2008, where she was assigned to Forward Support Company F, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. She deployed with the unit in January of 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"I cannot say anything today to diminish the impact of losing Francheska," said Lt. Col. David Lesperance, the commander of 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt.
"We do not know where troopers like Francheska come from, except to say they are the kind of people which make America great," he continued. "We honor Pvt. Francheska Velez today, whose personal example was that of happiness and contentment."
"If you knew her, you knew she was all smiles and laughter," said Sgt. Michael Armstead, one of Velez's noncommissioned officers. "Everyday Velez came to work with a smile on her face."
"She was someone who was always willing to help anyone at any given time," said her close friend, Spc. Prudence Augustine. "She is someone that I am happy came in my life. She is an inspiration to me in many ways and will always have a special place in my heart."
"Velez did not deserve the outcome of her passing, and should always be remembered for the lessons she has given us," said Sgt. Armstead. "She taught us to always be ourselves, smile daily, love one another, and take care of one another no matter what. Velez would not want anything less of us."
Private Velez is survived by her parents, Eillen Rodriguez and Juan G. Velez and her brothers Juan and Andrew Velez.