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Army Pvt. Damian Lopez Rodriguez

Died April 6, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, Tucson, Ariz.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany; died April 6 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations. Also killed were Capt. Anthony Palermo and Spc. Ryan S. Dallam.

Mexican-born soldier who died in combat buried in Arizona

The Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Mexican-born soldier who died in combat in Iraq while awaiting American citizenship has been buried in Tucson.

Pvt. Damian Lopez Rodriguez, 19, died “a national hero,” said Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, top commander at Fort Huachuca, who spoke on behalf of the Army at the funeral service April 16.

A 2005 graduate of Tucson’s Pueblo High Magnet School, Rodriguez was killed in action in Baghdad on April 6 when his Humvee was hit by a homemade bomb.

Army officials said two other soldiers also died in the blast — Cpl. Ryan Scott Dallam, 24, of Norman, Okla., and Capt. Anthony Palermo, 26, of Brockton, Mass.

Rodriguez, a native of Nogales, Mexico, was overseas with the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based in Schweinfurt, Germany.

“Like many soldiers, he believed he was making a difference,” Fast said. “There is no greater cause than to give your life for your nation, and in this case, your adopted nation.”

President Bush signed an executive order in 2002 to speed up the naturalization process for immigrants who serve in the military during wartime. They now can apply for citizenship without a waiting period.

Rodriguez had done so before he died and his citizenship will be granted posthumously, said Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Saunders of Fort Huachuca.

“He was going through the process, and because of what happened, they will expedite the process,” Saunders said.

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