Tributes to California’s war dead

Profiles of California’s fallen troops

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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 6,700 mem­bers of the Amer­ic­an mil­it­ary have died since the con­flict in Afgh­anistan began in late 2001. Among them are 736 Cali­for­ni­ans and an ad­di­tion­al 490 men and wo­men who were as­signed to bases in this state.

Rafael Reynosa Suarez, 28
Died May 29, 2004

Its almost 9 years Since you Left us, oh how time flies by. We miss you with all our hearts. Watch over us primo. R.I.P Rafa. We Love you <3

— Xochilt Suarez
January 17, 2013
Shakere T. Guy, 23
Died Oct. 29, 2005

Guy was my brother in arms! My brother in life my battle buddy! We learned about one another real quick pulling guard duty and other mission we were tasked with. I miss him very much and cant believe it's almost 8 years now and seems like yesterday.. love you brother see you on the other side! Do me a favor and watch my 6 on my next tour to Afghanistan!!

— Wayne Guido Gray
March 19, 2013
Victor R. Lu, 22
Died Nov. 13, 2004

Victor was one of the nicest and most down to earth gentlemen. Always full of life and positive energy. We really became good friends when we workout together on a weekly basis. thank you for everything you have done, and rip my friend. you will forever be missed.

— Vincent Sit
April 2, 2013
Lukas C. Hopper, 20
Died Oct. 30, 2009

Luke always had a great sense of humor and was a ray of sunshine to everyone around him. My heart is heavy for the life he could've lived but it is as it is. Bless your soul and I wish you good energy in your space in time.

— T
June 14, 2012
Casey J. Grochowiak, 34
Died Aug. 30, 2010

Casey was bigger than life. Always cracked me up in the field as he was the first to be up and full of energy; running around camp while everyone was barely awake. I have never met a more influential person in my life. Everyone wanted to be him and everyone looked up to his leadership. Proud to have served with you brother. Rest in Peace.

— Shaun Groomes, CCo 2-504, 2004-2007
August 30, 2012
Ivan E. Merlo, 19
Died Jan. 8, 2008

Hey Merlo! well time is still passing by fast! im sure your proud of your family and all the things they have accomplished in life so far, its hard not having you here with us anymore! We know your in a better place, counting down the days until we meet again. May God have you in his Glory, Much love Sara <3

— Sara Teresa L
May 3, 2013
Manuel A. Ceniceros, 23
Died June 26, 2004

Hey brother I still remember the night they told me you were gone. Rushing over to see you one last time carrying you to the helo to send you home with your family. Not a day goes by that you dont cross my mind. So much has happened I wish you were here to share it with.

— Robert Mohlmaster
February 19, 2013
Richard A. Perez Jr., 19
Died Feb. 10, 2005

The best big brother ever. Id do anything to bring him back. 7 years later and this whole thing still confuses me as it did when I was 10 years old. Seeing his picture throughout Coronado H.S. always brought a smile to my face:) Forver my hero pook💙

— risa
August 8, 2012
Ronnie J. Pallares, 19
Died Oct. 23, 2010

i love you cousin, we will never forget you! you will always be in my heart. Our guardian angel<3 Ill see you again one day! Rest in paradise

— Reyna Rogers
January 17, 2013
Michael A. Estrella, 20
Died June 14, 2006

Man mike almost 7 years it feels like yesterday i will never forget you and frank you guys will always be in my heart and in my prayers miss u Estrella's bros.iwill never forget you mike it still hurts but I know your in good hands. See you soon.

— Peter
March 3, 2013
Carlo F. Eugenio, 29
Died Oct. 29, 2011

Kiks miss you everyday


July 30, 2012
Jose Ricardo Flores-Mejia, 21
Died Nov. 16, 2004

Primo, the date keeps getting closer and closer that will mark you being 8 years gone. I miss you so much and i still remember your last words to me, "Dont be scared and whenever you are just look up at the stars and i will be there." Yes primo i still look up at the stars and my eyes still tear up. I miss you mucho and I love mucho.

— Natalie
October 16, 2012
Marisol Heredia, 19
Died Sept. 7, 2007

Nunca te olvidamos...Everytime I go to the El Monte Post office named in Your honor, I see Your smiling face. Every time I walk past Your photo I touch it... I may have never known You or Your Family, but it doesn't matter. You lived in The town I grew up in. You were and are one of us. God touched Your face and now holds You in His glory. Peace to You, Your Family and all of Your Friends. What fortune they had in knowing You. The world is a safer place because of You.
See You on the other side...

— Michael
September 6, 2012
Lyndon A. Marcus Jr., 21
Died May 3, 2004

It has been years and I still remember you everyday. One day we will meet again and rejoice our times together. Your amazing voice will never be forgotten amongst us cavalry men. The 3rd BRT has you in its history, for you where not lost that day, you gained immortality and will forever preserve your youth. We love you brother, I will see you in Fiddlers Green soon.

— Martin Reyna
October 18, 2012
Michael J. Palacio, 23
Died March 29, 2012

Every memory of you is my favorite memory. I don't miss just one thing about you I miss everything about you. I think of you all day, everyday and God knows I try very hard to hold it all together but sometimes the pain is greater than me. My heart, my life is incomplete without you here. But I know that we will be together again. I miss you deeply and love you most .... XOXO

— Ma Lili
November 20, 2012
Andrew S. Dang, 20
Died March 22, 2004

Aragon Wrestling all the way! Thank you brother for all you did and all you gave. It has been almost 10 years and I remember the day we got the news. You are always in our memories and will never be forgotten.

— Julien W
April 10, 2013
Christopher L. Palmer, 22
Died Aug. 21, 2005

I remember talking with Palmer 2 weeks before he passed when we were pulling guard on top of a building and he kept talking of how he was going to enjoy going on leave soon to see his Family. I often remember this conversation because when I returned from leave I learned that he was killed. RIP

— Jeff Stevens
May 21, 2013
Aaron J. Ward, 19
Died May 6, 2008

I always think of you when I remember the fallen, he was my first battle buddy that has given his life for freedom. I miss you Ward

— SPC Tabatha Green
July 12, 2012
Jhanner A. Tello, 29
Died Dec. 10, 2009

3 years already have past and a day doesn't go by without you on my mind! Love you Primo, and that you're watching over the entire family. Especially your sons and little sister Yuli!

— Ashley
December 10, 2012
Jose Gutierrez, 22
Died March 21, 2003

Thank you for your sacrifice, so that others may have the opportunity to fulfill their DREAMS. Much love and respect to our Service Members. -Serg.

— Sergio Guerrero
March 19, 2013
Claudio Patino IV, 22
Died June 22, 2010

I love and miss you Claudio you will always be our hero you died doing what you loved fighing for our freedom i love and miss you!! R.ip <3

— Janessa Gomez
October 29, 2012
Jose Regalado, 23
Died Nov. 12, 2008

A sad day when you find out a childhood friend has past. Jose was a funny guy and always a good time to be around. We both went to Sierra Park and ESMS together and were involved in after school programs. Wish i could have kept in touch after the move. RIP bud! Thank you for all you did and the fun times we all had!

Jaime Torres

— Jaime Torres
July 18, 2012
Eric U. Ramirez, 31
Died Feb. 12, 2004

Daddy I didnt think this would happen but here i am
Writting about you me mom and chase love you very much and we respect you so much I just wish you were here. I will never forget you i pray for everyone does. I LOVE YOU ! And i will never stop!!!!! Love isis i will see you again!

— Isis J. Ramirez
May 16, 2013
Gregory M. Frampton, 37
Died Jan. 30, 2003

I knew Greg while attending San Jose State. We both lived at Saprtan Village. He was loved by many at SJSU. A great person to be around and a loyal freind.

— Fernie Marroquin
December 19, 2012
Billy Gomez, 25
Died Oct. 27, 2004

I truly miss you and your brothers was the reason why I had joined the military..I know you you are watching over all of us. Today and everyday you will he remembered for serving your country and protecting us. We love you and miss you primo!!!!! <3

— Emily Rivas-Dicks
November 11, 2012
Richard A. Soukenka, 30
Died Feb. 27, 2007

6 years now and your influence still burns bright in my life. Thank you for the example you set. Despite the challenges of typical army nonsense, you were dependable above your peers to complete the mission. I look forward to telling my kids about you and Henry and Doc and Mike tonight at bedtime and hope that your sacrifice will burn bright in the minds of all americans

Thundercat 16

— Dan Patterson
February 27, 2013
Karina S. Lau, 20
Died Nov. 2, 2003

I think about karina all the time... I went to school with her and was extremely sad and heart broken to find out she left us... She had so much to give and gave it all up to fight for our rights and freedoms and for that I thank you... And I miss you very much... RIP xo

— Cris
August 26, 2012
Daniel P. Cagle, 22
Died May 23, 2007

We are one month away from the 6 year anniversary of Daniel's death. not a day goes by where I dont think about him or the times we had sharing a bunk in basic and the journey to Ft. Stewart together lol. He was an amazing guy and always knew how to find the bright side of things. He is truely missed and I will always pray for his family and the void they have without him.

— Christian Chacon
April 22, 2013
Paul T. Nakamura, 21
Died June 19, 2003

Paul was an admirable person. I was very fortunate to have him in my life. From the boy scout trips to playing water polo at SFHS, Paul will never be forgotten.

— Casey Romero
September 20, 2012
Joshua R. Whittle, 20
Died June 6, 2009

come home please josh. Not a day goes by where you don't cross my mind. You were to good of a person, you didn't deserve to leave us so early. Watch after your mom. I love you and ill be seeing you soon <3

— a friend
June 13, 2012
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