Tributes to California’s war dead

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    On this Me­mori­al Day, the Los Angeles Times pays trib­ute to the Cali­for­nia ser­vice mem­bers who have died in the wars in Afgh­anistan and Ir­aq by pub­lish­ing a se­lec­tion of com­ments pos­ted over the last year by those who knew and loved them. Hun­dreds more can be read on The Times' data­base, Cali­for­nia's War Dead.

    These memor­ies speak of friend­ship and loss in a simple and heart­felt way — and re­mind us of the great sac­ri­fices made in ser­vice to this coun­try.

    More than 6,000 mem­bers of the Amer­ic­an mil­it­ary have died since the con­flict in Afgh­anistan began in late 2001. Among them are 701 Cali­for­ni­ans and an ad­di­tion­al 474 men and wo­men who were as­signed to bases in this state.

    Claudio Patino IV, 22
    Died June 22, 2010

    To Claudio. I want you to know that I appreciate what you did for this country. I remember joking with you senior yr about you going into the Marine Corps because I was going into the Air Force. Well almost 2 years later and im sitting out here in Afghanistan thinking of you man. Im not to far from Helmand Province and I can't help but wonder if you were right where I am now. I relize that I am not as close to you as the people who posted on here, however, we are brothers in arms. From one service member to another... Thank you.

    — Donny Warden
    May 20, 2012
    Jonathan Antonio Vega Yelner, 24
    Died April 29, 2008

    Jonathan, my son, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of you. I remember how happy you and your brother made my life. Of course, I miss you. I know that Mathew misses you more. We are a great family. So, Mathew will grow up to be a great man. And, you and I will be proud of him. Mathew and I keep your memory alive. I am very grateful to everyone who contacts me and remembers your dedication. I have so many beautiful stories of you and Mathew. They bring me peace. The additional stories from your friends are a gift. G-d bless all of you. And, those of you who are still serving - Be Careful. We want you home.
    Love, Mammi

    — Yolanda Vega
    May 16, 2012
    Raul Mercado, 21
    Died Jan. 7, 2006

    I'm sitting on my sofa thinking about you as always. I miss you...I want you back...still can't believe it no matter how long ago...I Love You...I teach my Recruits about the Marine Corps and I teach them about the Marines that have sacrifice their life and each one of them have a little of you in them...

    — Vanessa Lopez Martinez
    April 22, 2012
    Jennifer L. Cole, 34
    Died Aug. 2, 2008

    She was the greatest and we had a blast out there, I will never forget that day that I handed over that truck to her for guard duty and waking up to the worst sound in the world. Miss her very much and she was soo freakin goofy all the time on her forklift lol. Love ya girly!

    — Spc.Ramirez,Alicia
    April 18, 2012
    Joseph C. Lopez, 26
    Died Oct. 14, 2010

    Hi Joey-Nephew....just sitting here thinking about you and how much I miss you. A day doesn't go by that I don't think of you 40 or 50 times. I love you nephew. You are missed so much.

    — Susie-Aunt
    April 18, 2012
    Jason D. Cunningham, 26
    Died March 4, 2002

    37 years ago you were born, 16 years ago you were married, 10 years ago you were gone. You will always be remembered.

    — T
    March 28, 2012
    Avealalo Milo, 23
    Died Oct. 4, 2007

    We miss you Cousin Ave, its been 5 long years youve been gone but yet we know that you are still watching over us NO DOUBT. school: LEPA High Schoool Ayeeee REP IT one time! Reppin the Aiga Proud :) Our Cousin/Brother, Yet Our inspiration to always aim High, We love you cousin no doubt, and we know that you want the best in life for us, so we're going to make you proud. Manuia lou Aso Fanau, Kisses to the Sky <3

    — Lynette Leiavaa, Cousin
    March 24, 2012
    Jesus Angel Gonzalez, 22
    Died April 12, 2003

    Approaching the ninth anniversary of the death of my son, my hero Marine Cpl. Jesus A. Gonzalez and like the day I got the fateful news of his death in the Iraqi Freedom War, a war that was not his war, a war of the rich and powerful Republicans led by George W. Bush, I wonder, Mr. George W. Bush allows his conscience to live peacefully?

    A mother who suffers to this day the loss of his son.
    Silvia Berrones-Trevino.

    — Silvia Berrones-TreviƱo
    March 9, 2012
    Daniel A. Quintana, 30
    Died Sept. 10, 2011

    I miss every second being with you I wish you would hsve the opportunity to meet our daughter she is beautiful and looks so much like you. We miss you my love Jose bsby Adriana and myself will never forget you

    — Nilda B Quintana
    March 2, 2012
    Richard A. Soukenka, 30
    Died Feb. 27, 2007

    5 years and not a day goes by without a thought of you. You had a special way about you, I remember our last conversation. I will not allow your memory to fade. Thank you for all you did and what you gave

    Thundercat 17

    — Jeffrey DeRosa
    February 27, 2012
    Steven J. Walberg-Riotto, 18
    Died April 15, 2007

    he totally rocked i love him!!!!!!!!!!

    — sister
    February 23, 2012
    Alex Oceguera, 19
    Died Oct. 31, 2006

    6yrs. From that horrible day. And i still feel like that happen yesterday. I am glad that i spend time with you; I'll never forget those days. O.C R.I.P. And be happy because i am going at take you some flowers. See you soon cusin.:)

    — Ricardo
    February 13, 2012
    Jason M. Morales, 20
    Died April 18, 2007

    Thank You Jason for teaching me to put a smile on everyones face and go through life with a smile. i will never forget anything from the ultimate wedgies from you and Steven to Skateboard tricks you taught me and now i go to sign my contract this week try to make something of myself just like you did i need to go see you some more at your final resting place im sorry i havent been there as much as i should and when i see you just remember im older and stronger now good luck trying to give me a wedgie!

    — Mark Cousin (older now)
    February 7, 2012
    Conrad A. Mora, 24
    Died July 24, 2010

    i dont know how many times i look back at old school photos of all of us. I remember even hanging out at my house, doing homework, all the talks and fun times we had. I look up to the sky hopin you can hear me, when im down. I want you to know not a day goes by i dont think about you, wishin all of us here can turn back time. You still live on where ever we are homie. We miss you.

    — ken barnett
    January 31, 2012
    Hugo R. Lopez, 20
    Died Jan. 27, 2006

    Today marks 6 years that you have left us. No matter where you are we will always have you in our hearts. We still remember all those good times we had with you cousin and we will always charish them. Also, i finally turned 18 today cousin:). Every time this day comes i always think of you and i always look at my dog tag of you and say "Thank You". You will forever be in my heart. R.I.P Hugo

    — Mayra Velazquez
    January 27, 2012
    Ryan L. Mayhan, 25
    Died Dec. 21, 2006

    Always smilling. Always laughing. It gave us streangth. Im blessed to have called you brother.

    — Clark
    December 20, 2011
    Marisol Heredia, 19
    Died Sept. 7, 2007

    My cousin Marisol A genuine & beautiful person. She is my hero, my inspiration; the reason I am who I am today. We would spend hours talking on the phone, she spoke about about strength, sacrifice and being kind and just to enjoy life. I opened up to her about all my struggles and she shared hers. I miss her very much. I have so many wonderful things to say about her. I owe her a great deal of gratitude for her service to our country and for being the kind and welcoming person I remember her to be. I LOVE YOU cuzzo! descansa en paz your memory will live forever in our hearts. -carlitos

    — Carlos
    December 15, 2011
    Jason W. Morrow, 27
    Died June 27, 2006

    Jason made me laugh every single day. He made everyone laugh though. I will never forget the sense of humor that man had. I wish he was around today to see the moves his beloved Angels are making. I have no idea why I was able to make it out of that truck and you weren't, but I think about you literally every single day and I will until the say I die. I miss you.

    — Swanny
    December 11, 2011
    Marcus M. Cherry, 18
    Died April 6, 2004

    Marcus & his brother sang at my wedding May 2001. I will never forget his smile and jokes. R.I.P. We All Miss you.

    — Adele
    December 1, 2011
    Kenny F. Stanton Jr., 20
    Died Oct. 13, 2006

    Kenny, you are and always will be in my heart i miss you everyday. You always knew how to make me laugh,smile, and let me know that everything was going to be ok. I know you are looking down on all your loved ones and they are all thinking about you. :) Im so proud of you, you are my hero for all that you have done for me.

    — Heather Escalera
    November 15, 2011
    Ray A. Spencer II, 20
    Died April 16, 2009

    Just sitting here thinking of you LITTLE RAY. Always love u now and forever. auntie rosie

    — rosie
    October 8, 2011
    Roberto "Junior" Causor Jr., 21
    Died July 7, 2007

    I miss you cousin. It's been about 4 years. and i still miss you soo much.!Your sisters are growing into beautiful young girls. you'd be so proud!

    — Corina
    October 6, 2011
    Garrett A. Fant, 21
    Died Sept. 26, 2011

    Garrett i miss you so much you were like a brother too me its like they all say "another solider has fallen but they have fallen a hero and will never be forgotten" i love and miss you alot LOVE PAM

    — Pamela
    October 1, 2011
    Koran P. Contreras, 21
    Died Sept. 8, 2011

    i dont know what to say i cant believe youre gone i will always remember you, you are an angel now rest in peace chaparro love ya...

    — zulmy aviles
    September 25, 2011
    Joshua D. Pickard, 20
    Died Dec. 19, 2006

    We Miss And Lover You Josh Theres Not A day That Goes By That i Dont Think About My Favorite Cousin I Love You Josh and You Will Be In My Heart ForEver!! I Cant Wait To See You When It's My Time....

    — Summer Mclaughlin
    September 21, 2011
    Nicanor Amper IV, 36
    Died July 5, 2011

    July 5th 2011 was a terrible day for us all. An amazing NCO, it was an honor to be with him during his final mission

    — Jerry H
    August 28, 2011
    Mark A. Stets, 39
    Died Feb. 3, 2010

    Its been over a year and I still feel like the chaplain was here yesterday telling us the horrific news. I miss my father sooo much my heart physicaly aches. I wish he could come home but I know he cant. I just pray that one day we can all be a family in heaven again. I love you daddy ill always be ur babygirl!!!

    — Jessica
    August 19, 2011
    Adan Gonzales Jr., 28
    Died Aug. 7, 2011

    Adan was and always will be remembered as a great man who served his country along with many others. Adan (Adam) as i know him, was my nephew. He was always a happy boy got along with many. He loved life. Family was his world. Adan's mother and father did good in raising him. Adan had the biggest brown eyes and i will always remember him as little tata man. Thank you for comming and letting me see what a great man you had become. I Love You Adan.

    — Belinda
    August 17, 2011
    Jesse D. Pittman, 27
    Died Aug. 6, 2011

    Never short on smiles or odd ball jokes. A one in a million guy with the kind of attitude and work ethic that makes his community proud. Could never have a bad day around Jesse, anyone who knew him knows that he could squeeze a smile out of a rock. What a great guy. Thoughts and prayers are with The Pittman family, Thanks to them for helping to mold, not just a model American, but a model human being.

    — JP Carson
    August 11, 2011
    Travon T. Johnson, 29
    Died July 23, 2007

    Travon was always a kind hearted young man. He loved serving and protecting his country. He gave his heart and soul. Thank You Travon for your dedicated service to our country. You are gone, but you will never ever be forgotten. I Salute you Sgt. Travon T. Johnson!!!!! You made a difference in our lives!!!
    Love you Always, Auntie Gwen Tysen

    — Gwen Tysen Roberts
    August 7, 2011
    Florence B. Choe, 35
    Died March 27, 2009

    I think about my first years in the Navy while stationed at Bethesda Naval Medical Center where you touched the lives of all those that you came in contact with and always had words of encouragement to share during our conversations about the topic of the day. Your SMILE infectious and your energy present. You are in my thoughts often and prayers continue for your family. You are a role model for me today and have had a lasting impact on me that will be with me the rest of my life. Miss you.

    — HMC Julie L. Arp
    July 26, 2011
    Gurpreet Singh, 21
    Died June 22, 2011

    YOU are a great son to be proud of rest of ours lifes.WE will remember your sacrifice.YOU ARE A GREAT HERO.

    — balraj singh
    July 26, 2011
    James M. Christen, 29
    Died July 19, 2011

    This is James mother and i would like to say how much I loved my son he was a great son and his family will miss him greatly. We would like to thank everyone for there support it means alot to all of us.

    — Gwen Murray
    July 23, 2011
    Edgar P. Daclan Jr., 24
    Died Sept. 10, 2004

    Doc, I hope you know how much of impact you had on so many of us. We will never forget you and live each day to the fullest in your honor. Miss you bro... see you soon. -Kyle Carrier

    — Kyle Carrier
    July 11, 2011
    Kevin J. Hilaman, 28
    Died June 26, 2011

    Kevin, Our country is great because of what you gave for it, but our world will always be alittle darker without you in it. I love you little brother, I will never forget you!!

    — aundria marshall
    July 1, 2011
    Russell J. Proctor, 25
    Died June 26, 2011

    Great soldier and a great man, had the honor to go through basic training and serving with him in Iraq, see you on the high ground brother.

    — Ernest Ramos
    June 28, 2011
    Brandon Christopher Dewey, 20
    Died Jan. 20, 2006

    Dewey was one of a kind. I met him in 1999 on a blind date with Jeannie. There was never a sad face around him, he always knew how to make you laugh. Our friendship flourished his senior year. So many wonderful memories of him. I will always miss you dewey. Semper Fi

    — Sherry
    June 16, 2011
    Aaron J. Blasjo, 25
    Died May 29, 2011

    Aaron was one of those guys you'd never forget. He stood tall for his beliefs and had a bigger heart than most. I'll never forget what he did for this country.

    — Brian Bartle
    June 1, 2011
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    Source: California's War Dead

    Credits: Megan Garvey, Maloy Moore, Ben Welsh