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Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary J. Vasquez

Died September 29, 2008 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

33, of Round Lake, Ill.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Sept. 29 in Yakhchal, Afghanistan, from wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device during mounted operations. Also killed were Capt. Richard J. Cliff and Sgt. 1st Class Jamie S. Nicholas.

Illinoisan killed by IED in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

ROUND LAKE, Ill. — The Department of Defense says a 33-year-old Illinoisan killed in Afghanistan this week was one of three soldiers killed by an improvised explosive device.

The department says Sgt. 1st Class Gary Vasquez died Monday in Yakhchal, Afghanistan, along with 29-year-old Capt. Richard Cliff Jr. of South Carolina and 32-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Nicholas of West Virginia.

They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group in Fort Bragg, N.C.

The DoD lists Vasquez’s home town as Round Lake, but his family says he was from the Metro East community of Highland.

Vasquez was a 1992 graduate of Highland High School and got a drama degree from Illinois State University.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary J. Vasquez

The Associated Press

People would tell Gary J. Vasquez that they were sorry each time he was sent back into a war zone.

“He would say, ‘What do you mean. I can’t wait,’” said his brother, Barry DuHasek.

Vasquez, 33, of Round Lake, Ill., was killed Sept. 29 in an explosion in Yakhchal. He was assigned to Fort Bragg and was on his third tour in Afghanistan.

He received a bachelor’s degree in drama from Illinois State in 1996. Theater professor Sandra Zielinski recalled Vasquez as “a delightful student” and “a very positive young man.”

“His personality was larger than life,” said DuHasek. “He was probably one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. He was my best friend and my brother.”

He enlisted about nine years and enjoyed reading and spending time with his dogs, Smash and Medea.

“He loved his job. He was happy to be doing what he was doing,” said DuHasek. “He basically indicated that he always wanted to be a soldier.”

He also is survived by his wife, Sarah, who with her husband would have celebrated their second anniversary on Oct. 14.

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