Tributes to California’s war dead

Profiles of California’s fallen troops

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On this Veterans 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 family and friends in a simple and heart­felt way — and re­mind us of the great sac­ri­fices made in ser­vice to this coun­try.

More than 6,600 mem­bers of the Amer­ic­an mil­it­ary have died since the con­flict in Afgh­anistan began in late 2001. Among them are 725 Cali­for­ni­ans and an ad­di­tion­al 486 men and wo­men who were as­signed to bases in this state.

Rudy A. Salcido, 31
Died Nov. 9, 2006

Tomorrow marks the 6th year anniversary of the death of SFC Rudy Salcido. I meet Salcido in Feb. of 2000 in Fort Jackson SC. We were in basic training together. It was obvious from the jump he was natural leader. He went out of his way to help others in need to include me. He shared many stories about his love Jennifer, and his one and only daughter Gabby. I remember asking him if he wanted to go to church with me and the 1st few times he said no. Then he began to realize it could be a way to get some time to himself. Next thing you know Salcido volunteered to be an usher. We stayed in contact for a while as we went our separate ways on to AIT. I was stunned to her the news of his death a few years ago. I got a hold of his Mom whom which I met at a family fun day; and I told her how sorry I was. She consoled me. She told me he wouldn't have had it any other way. In my heart I knew this was true. Salcido is a true American hero. I will celebrate his life tomorrow and I will honor him on Sun. (Veterans Day). Everyday I wake up and thank God for people like Salcido who have willingly laid their life on the line so my family and I can remain free. My you RIP SFC Salcido and may God wrap his arm around your family and comfort them when that are missing you most. Your battle in training Rangel.

— Alicia Fuss
November 8, 2012
Michael P. Bridges, 23
Died Nov. 2, 2006

Love you, another year passes, another year not forgotton.

— Ambur Kenyon
November 5, 2012
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
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
Dennis L. Sellen Jr., 20
Died Feb. 11, 2007

Dennis I miss you bother remember when we met in basic training we would laugh all night set and talk about our family and friends back from home we would shine our boots while you would beat box and sing I loved it . It was like a concert I'm so mad at myself for not writing you sooner but I could not figure out what to say . I know your still around doing something funny I miss you so much

— Maximino Ramos
September 24, 2012
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
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
Jonathan Castro, 21
Died Dec. 21, 2004

Bro, so many memories of us. I honestly will never forget about you brother. Thank you again for serving our Country and I wish we still had you here with us. You were a great friend to me and I will always charish our friendships and memories. God Bless you brother and rest in peace. Love you

John Paul Castro

— John Paul Castro
August 21, 2012
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

Reading all these messages just brings back wonderful memories of my amazing primo that I love as my big brother and that was there for me when my brother did his first tour to Iraq. I love you and I know your rocking the heavens. Miss your laugh. Also Thank you to Jennifer and Lusin. I hope to visit his grave site soon!

— Ashley Tello "prima"
July 26, 2012
Jose R. Perez, 21
Died Oct. 18, 2006

Perez, to this day i look down at my right wrist and see this KIA bracelet and still cant believe it. It was an honor to know you, to have had beers with you, and to have gone down range with you. You are truely missed, and will never be forgotten. Be easy my dude...

— Jonathan Tirado
June 19, 2012
Rafael Reynosa Suarez, 28
Died May 29, 2004

Rafa you will live forever in our hearts, still remember many things you're shared with us, you always be remember as a good son and friend. RIP dear nephew.

— jesus y nena bravo
June 17, 2012
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
Aaron William Simons, 20
Died April 24, 2006

We went to Middle school & high school together...we argued & debated a lot about everything! But one day after school some boys were picking on me...He walked me home. It was a Mile and a half away from his own. Good man. Good Friend. Great Marine! Thank You Aaron!

— Sabrina
May 29, 2012
Andre D. Tyson, 33
Died June 22, 2004

Andre you are always in our thoughts at costco 130 your home warehouse. you will never be forgotten. you are a true hero.

— george f
May 28, 2012
Doonewey White, 26
Died May 29, 2007

Its been 5 Years since your death and IM still saddened by this day. It brings me to tears right now. Its even hard to write this. Im still missin you bro! Mark misses you! MOM misses you! DAD misses you! The aunties miss you! the cousins miss you!

Much love from your half brother

HM2 (FMF) Gillette, Jason White USN AD

— Jason White Gillette
May 25, 2012
Astor A. Sunsin-Pineda, 20
Died May 2, 2007

Astor, I know your seeing this, I need your help. Please talk to me. tell me how to be a better older brother. Its almost been five years without you, please help me

— cesar depaz
April 26, 2012
Bryce E. Gautier, 22
Died April 10, 2009

Bryce, it's not getting any easier! 3 years and I'm still missing you and my heart hurts as if it was yesterday! I know that when I pass, you will help me cross! I love you so much, I miss your hugs, but then you know that because I tell you all the time! You became my son when you adopted our family as yours. Thank you Dear Lord for blessing our lives with your dear child "Bryce", we are so blessed to have had him in ours<3

— Mom
April 9, 2012
Michael A. Monsoor, 25
Died Sept. 29, 2006

Happy Birf Mikey, much love and respect brotha.

— Ricky
April 5, 2012
Matthew T. Abbate, 26
Died Dec. 2, 2010

I knew Matt since 2008 when he won the gung ho award at squad leaders course. That's just how he was, all or nothing. I feel lucky to have known and fought with a warrior as fierce as Matt, his courage was infectious. Matt and his team saved my ass, I will always be thankful. Just blaze.

— nick
March 14, 2012
William River Emanuel IV, 19
Died July 8, 2004

Hey T.J, man its been 8 years. It seems like it was just yesturday. We had alot of fun times going out to the river in your beat up dodge to go fishing, we had a special relationship together ive always looked up to you as a older brother and to this day its hard to get over on what happen on july 8 2004. Yes i was very young but since Ive grown up now being 21 I realize what youve done for us as a family and to our country and Ive got to say man Im very grateful to say yea thats T.J hes my cousin!! haha But to have u gone its been hard to get over. I love u T and I will see u soon. -John-

— John Phillips
March 11, 2012
Jose Ricardo Flores-Mejia, 21
Died Nov. 16, 2004

Even though I know you're watching over me I miss you so much primo! I'm very proud to have a cousin like you I love you so much! I feel like a part of me is no longer here :(

— Cristy
February 18, 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
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
Brandon Christopher Dewey, 20
Died Jan. 20, 2006

We miss you every day and, are counting the days until your sister gets home from Afghanistan.

— Alice Johnson
January 22, 2012
Shin W. Kim, 23
Died June 28, 2007

Shin Woo...I haven't talked to you since high school but I want to say that you gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country and I thank you for that.

— Mike
December 18, 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
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Source: California's War Dead

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