Sergio A. Mercedes Saez
D Company 2-502 Infantry
Attached to 1-22 Infantry Battalion
KIA February 5, 2006
Specialist Sergio A. Mercedes' decorations
Sergio is also eligible to receive the
Conspicuous Service Cross
from the State of New York
City G.I. almost home
Dad-to-be dies in Iraq just before release
BY JIMMY VIELKIND and LEO STANDORA
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
A Manhattan soldier due to
return from Iraq next week in time for the birth of his first
child died in Baghdad
when his Humvee veered off a road and rolled over into a canal, family members and military officials said yesterday.
Spec. Sergio Mercedes Saez, 23,
perished while on patrol Sunday, the Defense Department said.
His heartbroken father said his son's tour of duty was due to end in 11 days.
"He came so close. He was almost home," said the dad, also named Sergio Mercedes, 49, his voice quavering.
"He was a good kid. He had ambition. He joined the Army hoping to get benefits that would take him to college," he said.
The Defense Department said
Mercedes Saez, who was with the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Ky.,
perished in an "accident" but gave no details.
It was unclear whether he was alone in the Humvee. The incident is under investigation, officials said.
Mercedes Saez's father and more
than a dozen other relatives gathered last night to mourn their
at the Washington Heights home of the soldier's aunt, Migdalia Mercedes, 49.
"I adored him," the
aunt said sadly. "He was a good, sweet kid who always worked
hard for his family.
Now he won't ever see his son. This isn't supposed to happen."
Migdalia Mercedes said her
nephew got married last year and his 23-year-old wife is now in
the Dominican Republic
with her family awaiting the March birth of the boy they plan to name Christopher Alejandro.
The aunt said Mercedes Saez
served one tour but was called back for a second. "He didn't
want to leave.
He wanted to be there for the baby, but he had to go. Now the baby won't have a father," she said holding back tears.
Mercedes Saez's wife, Jocelyn,
23, was too distraught to talk, said the soldier's brother Juan,
reached in the Dominican Republic by phone.
"I didn't just lose my
brother. I lost my best friend," he said. "Sergio was
the greatest. We all feel that way."
Juan said they also have a sister and another brother.
The father, who served nine
months in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, said his son was
born in the U.S.
but educated in the Dominican Republic, where his mother lives. The parents are separated.
He said his son returned to New York three years ago and joined the Army.
"Everybody says he wanted
to follow in my footsteps," said the father. "But I
talked to him about it.
I told him it was dangerous, that lots of things could happen.
But he was a young kid and I couldn't convince him not to go."
Originally published on February 8, 2006
New York Daily News http://www.nydailynews.com/
Unfortunately, this letter finds us mourning another of
our brothers we recently lost SPC Sergio Mercedes.
SPC Mercedes was a phenomenal Soldier. He and his wife were expecting their first child in April of this year.
SPC Mercedes was an integral part of 4th platoon and he will be sorely missed.
Captain Jared Crain
February 15, 2006
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