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Army Sgt. Maj. Julio C. Ordonez

Died September 17, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

54, of San Antonio; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, Task Force 34, Texas Army National Guard, Grand Prairie, Texas; died Sept. 17 when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was in went down in the vicinity of Tallil, Iraq. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Corry A. Edwards, Sgt. Daniel M. Eshbaugh, Sgt. Anthony L. Mason, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brady J. Rudolf, Cpl. Michael E. Thompson and 1st Lt. Robert Vallejo II.

Pentagon IDs 4 Texans killed in chopper crash

The Associated Press

DALLAS — Seven National Guardsmen — including four from Texas — were on their way from Kuwait to Balad to join their unit last week when their helicopter crashed in Iraq, the Texas National Guard said Monday.

The four Texans killed in Thursday’s crash were: Chief Warrant Officer Corry A. Edwards, 38, of Kennedale; Sgt. Anthony L. Mason, 37, of Springtown; 1st Sgt. Julio C. Ordonez, 54, of San Antonio; and 1st Lt. Robert Vallejo II, 28, of Richland Hills.

Three soldiers from the Oklahoma National Guard were also died.

“As we grieve with so many in our community over this extremely unfortunate news, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these citizen-soldiers,” said Lt. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez, adjutant general of the Texas National Guard.

The soldiers had been called to active duty on June 5. After completing two-and-a-half months of training at Fort Sill, Okla., the soldiers were deployed to Kuwait on Aug. 24, the Texas National Guard said in a news release.

The CH-47 Chinook was flying in a four-helicopter formation from Kuwait to the U.S. military base at Balad when it crashed about 60 miles west of Basra. Military officials say they suspect a mechanical malfunction.

The soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, Task Force 34, Texas Army National Guard in Grand Prairie.

Vallejo, a pilot who was posthumously promoted to captain, is survived by his wife Hillary Ann. He joined the National Guard in April 1999.

Edwards, posthumously promoted to chief warrant officer 2, is survived by his wife, Nanette, and sons, Killian Hunter and Logan Samuel. Edwards joined the military in December 1992. From June 2003 to April 2004, he served in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Mason, posthumously promoted to staff sergeant, is survived by his wife, Melanie Laree, and daughters, Ashley Nicole, Jamie Rosalee and Megan Irene.

Mason, who also served in Iraq from February 2003 to September 2003, joined the Texas Army National Guard last year. He attended basic training and advanced individual training to become a helicopter engineer.

Ordonez, posthumously promoted to sergeant major, is survived by his wife Leticia, sons Julio and Jacob, and daughters Joyce and Judith. Ordonez, born in Honduras, joined the military in April 1982. Before joining the Texas Army National Guard, he served with HHC, 6-112th in Arkansas as a helicopter engineer, the Texas National Guard said.

Army 1st Sgt. Julio C. Ordonez remembered

The Associated Press

Julio C. Ordonez was known as someone who was quiet, respectful and down to earth, a first sergeant who always was last — by design.

Sgt. Tom Rios said most first sergeants go to Iraq first to get things arranged for their units, but Ordonez did the opposite. “He stayed back to make sure that everybody back there was taken care of before they moved forward. He came with the last group of guys.”

Ordonez, 54, of San Antonio, was killed Sept. 18 when his helicopter went down near Tallil. He was assigned to Grand Prairie, Texas.

“He was a very good guy, always friendly, very mellow, very personable,” said Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Jennifer Krausch.

Ordonez grew up in Honduras and attended St. Philip’s College and Hallmark Institute in San Antonio.

“People looked up to him. He was almost like a big brother,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Ramirez. “If you needed some advice, he was there for you. He would never steer you in the wrong direction.”

He leaves his wife, Leticia, and children Julio Jr., Joyce, Jacob and Judith.

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