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Army Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza

Died October 26, 2007 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

29, of Glendale, Ariz., assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy; died Oct. 25 in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when he came in contact with enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenade, machine-gun and small-arms fire during combat operations. Also killed was Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan.

Army medic from Glendale dies in ambush in Afghanistan

Beth Duckett

The Arizona Republic

An Army medic who graduated from Trevor Browne High School in Phoenix was killed Thursday in combat in Afghanistan

Family members said Saturday that Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza, 29,of Glendale, was an avid churchgoer who dreamed of becoming a firefighter.

Mendoza, 29, died Thursday in Korengal Valley after his unit was ambushed by enemy forces, according to the Department of Defense Web site. .

Mendoza’s brother, Carlos Mendoza, Jr. of Glendale said his brother was deployed in June to Vicenza, Italy, where his unit is based, The two brothers lived together with Carlos’ wife and three children.

“He liked to bowl and liked to play with my kids,” Carlos said. “The older he got, the more loving he got.”

In a tearful but steady voice, Carlos, 37, said Hugo joined the service last year to get medical training.

“Once he got money for being in service, he was going to use it to go to school and follow his dream of being a firefighter,” Carlos said.

Born in California, Hugo Mendoza spent most of childhood days in El Paso, Texas. As a high school junior, he moved to Phoenix 12 years ago.

He worked in sheet metal construction after he graduated from high school, his brother said.

Since joining the army, Mendoza the remained close with family, calling his mother Sara Mendoza in Detroit every time he had the chance. The Mendozas last heard from him Oct. 17, when he left a cheerful message on the family’s answering machine.

“He sounded in good spirits and was in a good mood ... calling to tell us how he was,” Carlos Mendoza said.

Maria Velasquez, 18, of Phoenix a friend who has known Mendoza since she was a tot, said, “Hugo was like my own brother, my own uncle. He was everything to us ... it’s been hard, it’s been very hard.”

While mourning their loss, family and friends said they are trying to remember all the positive things about Hugo.

“He had an infectious smile,” his brother said. “He treated you the way you wanted to be treated. He was very giving of himself and his time, especially recently.”

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