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Army Pfc. Michelangelo A. Mora

Died May 14, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Arroyo Grande, Calif.; assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Polk, La.; killed May 14 when his vehicle slid off the road and turned over in Najaf, Iraq.

Calif. soldier killed in Iraq accident was “full of energy”

Associated Press

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. — People knew Army Pfc. Michelangelo Mora wherever he went, and everyone loved his laugh, smile and outgoing spirit.

“My son was one of these popular kids that made first impressions that nobody can forget,” his father, Mike Mora, 40, said Monday. “Just about everybody here in San Luis Obispo County knows him. How could you forget the name?”

The soldier died Friday in Iraq after his vehicle slid off the road and flipped over in Najaf, officials with the Department of Defense said in a statement. He was stationed at Fort Polk, La., and assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

The crash was under investigation.

Michelangelo Mora, 19, attended Margaret Harloe Elementary and Paulding Middle schools. He attended and graduated from the Grizzly Youth Academy, a military school, after his grades started dropping at Arroyo Grande High School.

Mora was athletic. In middle school, he played on basketball and baseball teams. He also played roller hockey with a community team and picked up skateboarding as a boy.

Mora was talkative, too.

“That’s why everybody knew him — he just couldn’t be quiet,” Mike Mora said about his son. “He was just full of energy. He wouldn’t sit still. He was something else.”

Mora joined the Army in January 2003, after working a year at a Pismo Beach ice cream shop. It was his idea to join the military and a decision his family supported.

“We wanted him to have structure. He wanted to get his stuff together, and we were all for it,” his father said.

The last time Mora called home from Iraq was on Mother’s Day. “He wanted to make sure his mother received the flowers he sent,” his father said.

Mora declined taking a leave in December, expecting to take 30 days off in April, said his mother, Maria Mora. His tour of duty, however, was extended last month.

“He was supposed to be home on vacation a month ago. ... I want everybody to know if it wasn’t for that he would’ve been home,” his mother said. “He was the warmest, most caring human being ever known. He loved kids.”

Family friend Lori Redhair said Mora had “laughter and a smile that went to people’s heart.”

“He’s an example of a kid who had gotten lost as a teen in tough times, got his GED, joined the Army and went over there and found himself,” she said. “We were all looking forward to the infinite things he was going to do.”

Funeral arrangements were being made at Lady Family Mortuary in Arroyo Grande.

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