Monday, October 09, 2006

Staff Sergeant Carlos Dominguez, Age 57, Husband, Father of Three, KIA Bagdad

Last week, when I was watching This Week with George S., I did what I normally do when the names of the fallen soldiers scroll by - I kept two questions in mind -- what are the ages and where are they from?

Nineteen hits harder than 35 because as a high-school teacher, I identify with the teens and I have former students who are in the theater of battle. Is a soldier less important if he or she is from California? Absolutely not, But, again, it hits harder when I see Anderson, SC and Seneca, SC -- two little towns who used to have a thriving textile economy and are right down the road from where I grew up but have fallen on tough times.

This weekly ritual did not prepare me for what I saw last week: a fallen soldier who was 57. I was stunned. Yes, I had seen the news accounts of older soldiers on reserve being called up. But this was different. A fifty-seven year old man was in one of the most dangerous of combat situations and was killed.

Looking over his official military bio, one sees that he was drafted in 1969 and served for 15 years in the U.S. Army Pacific, Republic of Korea, the U.S. Army South, Panama, the 2nd Infantry Division, Republic of Korea and the 3rd Armored Division, Germany all with no apparent combat. He then retired to civilian life with his wife in Savannah in 1984.

It would appear that September 11 did indeed change Staff Sergeant Carlos Dominguez as he, at age 52, in September 2001, "voluntarily enlisted into the U.S. Army Reserve as a chemical operations specialist assigned to the 366th Chemical Company, Fort Stewart, Ga., a subordinate unit of the 81st Regional Readiness Command. During his time with the 81st RRC, Dominguez mobilized with the 414th Chemical Company from Orangeburg, S.C., in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."

How does he end up in Bagdad? "In December 2005, Dominguez was transferred from the 81st RRC into the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) where he was trained as a civil affairs specialist. He deployed shortly thereafter to Iraq in support of the Global War on Terrorism."

And on September 23rd, his Humvee struck an IED and he was killed.

His daughter, Lisa, recounted that her father would sing her Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, changing "Lucy" to "Lisa", and said that her father ""gave with his whole heart."

"His wife said that as a civil affairs specialist, Dominguez was helping Iraqis rebuild and was proud of his work.

She says he knew his work was dangerous, but that he believed strongly in it."

There is a guestbook at where one can leave condolences. All the ones left for Staff Sergeant Carlos Dominguez were from the families of other fallen soliders. This one was typical:

October 1, 2006

To the Family of Staff Sgt. Carlos Dominguez:

My heart breaks again as I sign yet another guest book of another courgeous young soldier who gave their life so selflessly. I wish I never found myself in a position to have to sign another guestbook for the rest of my life. We lost a son 12/1/05 and it seems like yesterday.

I know first hand there are no words right now that will bring you the comfort and peace you need. Just know that you are not alone. My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you all as you mourn this loss. We don't know each other, will probably never meet, but will forever be united in the loss of our Heroes.

We have, unfortunately joined a group none of us wanted to join, an ever-growing group of families in this situation. May God grant you peace and strength to get through this and be able once again to smile at a memory rather than have only the tears that flow so easily now. To be so proud of your loved one and so saddened at the same time is a mix of emotions very difficult to deal with.

I am sorry that I never knew your soldier personally, but none of these courageous men and women will be forgotten. They will never be able to be replaced, but sometime, someday your loving memories will help to sustain you. This courageous soldier will forever now be your Angel watching over you all for the rest of your lives. It's what brings me some measure of peace and comfort and I hope it will you as well. To his family and friends in pain, I offer this comfort: When you find yourself in that dark sorrowful place, think not only of how you will miss him, but instead recall the years, days, hours and minutes gifted to you by his presence. The one thing that cannot be taken from you is those wonderful memories that now will mean more than ever.

If you ever want to talk, I'm only an e:mail away and would love for you to tell me more about your Hero. God Bless this courageous soldier and family.
Pam Adams (SFC Brent Adams, KIA 12/1/05 Ramadi, Iraq)
(Millersville, PA )
So much anguish....