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Army Sgt. Deyson K. Cariaga

Died July 5, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Honolulu; assigned to the 229th Military Intelligence Company, 29th Separate Infantry Brigade, Hawaii Army National Guard, Oahu, Kalaeloa, Hawaii; killed July 5 when the Humvee in which he was riding struck a land mine in Hammadi, Iraq.

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Hawaii soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

HONOLULU — A Hawaii National Guard soldier who was killed in Iraq has been identified as 20-year-old Sgt. Deyson Ken Cariaga of Honolulu.

The state Department of Defense said he was killed Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Humvee he was driving during a patrol near Balad. The patrol was returning to Logistical Support Area Anaconda.

Cariaga, an avid surfer known as “Dice” to his platoon mates, was the first Hawaii citizen-soldier to die in combat since the Vietnam War.

Cariaga was a member of the 229th Military Intelligence Company, 29th Brigade Combat Team. He was a member of a task force that collected intelligence in the area, and was described by his company commander as a “superb soldier.”

“He always excelled in every mission that was asked of him,” said Capt. Michael Desmond.

Cariaga, who was promoted posthumously, had been a member of the Army National Guard for three years. He was a graduate of Roosevelt High School, and would have turned 21 on July 28.

He is survived by his mother, Theresa Inouye, and an older brother, Lance.

The family issued a statement thanking the community for its support, but saying they need privacy and time to heal.

“Deyson was a good soldier and a wonderful son and brother. We are very grateful to have been blessed by the time we had with him,” their statement said. “We are very proud of him and of his service to his country.”

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Family remembers fallen soldier as boy who put family first

By Tara Godvin

Associated Press

HONOLULU — Sgt. Deyson Ken Cariaga was like any 20-year-old. He liked to surf and loved to sleep. But he was also compassionate, selfless and committed to his mission in Iraq, his older brother, Lance, said Monday.

Cariaga was the first Hawaii citizen-soldier to die in combat since the Vietnam War. He would have turned 21 next week. He had been in Iraq for six months.

“He was a soldier. There is no doubt about it. But he was a person as well. And that’s what I think I want people to remember him as,” Lance Cariaga, 32, said Monday.

An avid long-board surfer, the younger Cariaga graduated in 2002 from Oahu’s Roosevelt High School.

His mother, Theresa Inouye, said support from family, friends and people who never even really knew her son is helping her and her family cope with his death July 8 in Iraq.

“Just the outpour of sympathy has been a really big comfort to us,” Inouye said.

During a press conference the family held Monday, Inouye said that she wanted to give those who didn’t know her son an idea of the kind of person he was — a local boy who loved the ocean and put his family first.

He also adored children.

“He was always the pied piper and all the little kids would follow him,” she said.

Reports that Cariaga regularly carried around a backpack filled with toys to hand out to needy Iraqi children fit his character, she said.

Cariaga’s competitive spirit led him to join the Army National Guard, she said.

Assigned to the 229th Military Intelligence Company, 29th Separate Infantry Brigade, Cariaga’s job was to gather intelligence in the field by going house to house or through local contacts.

He was driving a Humvee in a convoy returning to base late on the night of July 8 when his vehicle ran over an explosive device. Three other troops were injured, none seriously.

In weekly e-mails and telephone calls since his deployment in January, Cariaga described Iraq to his family as hot and dusty.

“Just thinking of what he was confronting there — very, very different situation from training and home life — and I think at that point, my interpretation was that it hit home: War is not a nice thing,” Inouye said.

But while he became lonely and longed for Hawaii — often trawling the Internet for DVDs of surfing films to remind him of home — he believed in his mission, she said.

“The death of my son is just a very big loss for myself and my family. But I think Deyson would have wanted his soldiers, his buddies, his friends to be strong and to carry out the mission that they were sent there for,” she said.

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Memorial held for citizen-soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

HONOLULU — Tiffany Roloos remembers Deyson Cariaga as a good friend.

“He’d always go above and beyond what we expected of him,” Roloos said Thursday night outside a memorial service held for Cariaga, a Hawaii National Guard sergeant who was killed in Iraq.

“He was just what everyone would ask for in a friend,” Roloos said.

Cariaga, a 2002 Roosevelt High School graduate, was killed July 8 when a bomb exploded near the Humvee he was driving on patrol near Balad. He was the first Hawaii citizen-soldier to die in combat since the Vietnam War.

“Deyson has touched so many lives in his very short life, as evidenced by the scores of us gathered here tonight,” Frank Fujii said to those gathered at the memorial held at Mission Memorial Auditorium, next to City Hall.

Cariaga, a 20-year-old avid surfer known as “Dice,” was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 229th Military Intelligence Company, 29th Separate Infantry Brigade.

Slain Hawaii guard soldier known to family as “Dice”

Deyson Ken Cariaga was his name, but they called him Dice. He grew up in the Honolulu neighborhood of Kalihi, close to downtown, in a section where most residents were working-class folks of Filipino or Samoan descent. It is a place of housing projects, gangs, and drug deals.

Dice was the younger of two boys, raised by a single mother and his grandparents. All three generations lived in the same house on one income. Dice served meals at a retirement home and always thought of his grandparents; he brought leftovers home whenever he could.

The lean and lanky Dice was very athletic. He surfed and excelled at judo; he was a youth leader at the YMCA, and he joined Junior ROTC when he was a freshman at Roosevelt High School.

With kids, he was always the pied piper. So it was in Iraq. He always carried a purple backpack with him on patrol, filled with stuffed animals, toys and candy.

“Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me at all,” said his mother, Theresa Inouye.

Sgt. Deyson Ken Cariaga was only 20 when he died July 8, the first member of the Hawaii National Guard lost in combat since Vietnam. He was driving a Humvee on patrol when he drove over a bomb.

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