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Army Spc. Sergio Mercedes Saez

Died February 5, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

23, of New York City; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Feb. 5 when the Humvee in which he was riding rolled over into a canal in Baghdad.

Locals in Dominican Republic town honor soldier killed in Iraq

By Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press

SAN PEDRO DE MACORIS, Dominican Republic — A U.S. military honor guard’s rifle salute echoed off the tombs in a Dominican cemetery as mourners said goodbye Monday to a local soldier who died in Iraq.

Army Cpl. Sergio Antonio Mercedes Saez, 23, was manning the gun atop a Humvee on patrol south of Baghdad when the vehicle overturned and he was killed, said Army Brig. Gen. Ken Keen of the U.S. Southern Command. The other passengers survived, he said.

“He performed distinguished service to his country and his adopted countries,” Keen said.

Mercedes was born in the U.S. island territory of Puerto Rico and raised outside of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital.

American soldiers and Dominican police escorted the hearse and the dozens of mourners in black suits and dresses through the town’s streets from a parish hall beside the main cathedral to the cemetery.

Locals lining the route watched from balconies, parks and atop parked motorcycles, many holding umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun.

The service, given in Spanish and led by a U.S. Army chaplain, included eulogies from U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Hans Hertell.

Mercedes’ parents, Sergio and Carmen, were presented with ceremonial flags and his posthumously awarded Bronze Star.

“In a short life, he was known to be an example of an excellent son, selfless brother, loyal friend, loving husband and a humble human with an immense heart,” the family said in a prepared statement.

His wife, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child, was in the town but did not attend the ceremony for health reasons, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Dale Largent. A Dominican, she is currently in the application process to become a U.S. citizen, Army spokesman Robert Appin said.

Mercedes was a member of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky., and died during his second tour in Iraq, Keen said.

Member of 101st Airborne dies in Iraq

The Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — A soldier 101st Airborne Division died in Iraq when his Humvee rolled into a canal, the Army said Tuesday.

Spc. Sergio A. Mercedes Saez, 23, of New York, N.Y., died in Baghdad on Sunday. Saez was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat team. The army is investigating the cause of the accident.

There have been 119 soldiers from Fort Campbell killed in the Iraq war.

The Army post straddles the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

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