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Army Cpl. Steven I. Candelo

Died March 26, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Houston; assigned to the 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany; died March 26 in Baghdad when his vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

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Army Cpl. Steven I. Candelo remembered

The Associated Press

Waiting for Steven I. Candelo to come home was his fiancee and high school sweetheart, Erica Vasquez, who has worn his engagement ring for a year. She had already bought his wedding band for their planned nuptials next year.

“All my crying and everything won’t bring him back,” said Vasquez. “I know he’s in a better place. Of course, I am proud of him. I will always love him until the day I die.”

Candelo, 20, of Houston, was killed March 26 in Baghdad when his vehicle struck an explosive. He was assigned to Vilseck, Germany.

His family can’t recall him showing any fear of combat. “He wasn’t scared of anything, actually,” said his sister, Ivanna Candelo.

Candelo was wise beyond his years, said mourners at his funeral.

“He was thoughtful,” said Luis Mares. “He seemed to be a lot more mature for his age.”

Candelo was still in high school when he joined the Army three years ago. He owned his own home and was the first in his family to sign up for college.

“There’s pain inside of me,” said Candelo’s mother, Julia Martinez. “But I’m proud of him. He was my only boy... He was a real good son.”

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