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Army Sgt. 1st Class Joselito O. Villanueva

Died September 27, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


36, of Los Angeles; assigned to the 9th Engineer Battalion, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany; killed Sept. 27 when a sniper shot him while he was at his observation post in Balad, Iraq.

Joselito O. Villanueva's sunny personality quickly endeared "Sergeant V" to many of his fellow soldiers and their families. "Joe was a very sweet guy, and he had such a big heart," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Robinson. "He was also sociable, and he loved hanging out at the Irish pub with all his friends. I don't think Joe realized how special he made people feel." Villanueva, 36, of Los Angeles, was killed Sept. 27 in an ambush in Balad, Iraq. The 11-year Army veteran was based in Germany. Villanueva earned a Purple Heart in April when a roadside bomb exploded next to his Humvee, killing one of his soldiers. A piece of shrapnel the size of a half dollar pierced his neck. He was a combat engineer who worked defusing explosives, setting up mine fields and tearing down obstacles. "He was well-trained and believed deeply in what he was doing," said Sgt. Michael Anderson. "He was always there for his solders and his friends." Villanueva is survived by his parents, Edito and Pklarita.

— Associated Press

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