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Army Spc. Richard Arriaga

Died September 18, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Ganado, Texas; assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4th Battalion, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas; killed Sept. 18 during an ambush by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Tikrit, Iraq. Two other soldiers from his unit also were killed.

Spc. Richard Arriaga never met his daughter, but he already was showing signs of spoiling her. While he was in Iraq, he called home to Ganado, Texas, every week to check on his family, said Arriaga's aunt, Dolly Salinas. He was especially concerned about his newborn daughter. "He'd say, ‘I want you to pick her up right now,'" Salinas said. "He would have been a good father. He would have spoiled that child." Arriaga, 20, died Sept. 18 during an ambush near Tikrit, Iraq. A week before he left for Iraq, Arriaga married his girlfriend, Maggie, so that the baby girl she was going to give birth to would be born with his name. Little Bianca Mia was a month old when he was killed. "He wanted everything to be perfect, just in case something happened to him," Salinas said. After Arriaga's death, his sister decided to name her baby boy Richard.

— Associated Press

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