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Army Staff Sgt. Juan M. Solorio

Died March 4, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

32, of Dallas; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; killed March 4 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle as his unit was being attacked by enemy forces using small-arms fire in Mosul, Iraq.

Dallas soldier killed in Iraq loved family, adventure

By Anabelle Garay

Associated Press

DALLAS — A Texas soldier killed this week in an explosion in Iraq loved adventure and had a close relationship with his family, his younger brothers said Saturday.

While in Thailand, Army Staff Sgt. Juan M. Solorio tried local dishes made with insects and snakes and then shared the experience with his brothers.

“When it came to food or trying new things, he was doing it,” said Gerald Solorio Jr., a 30-year-old eighth-grade science teacher in Dallas.

Juan Solorio, 32, was killed Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Mosul. The explosion occurred as his unit was being attacked by enemy forces using small-arms fire, military officials said Saturday.

Before deploying to Iraq in October, Juan Solorio served as a sniper instructor at Fort Lewis, Wash., where he was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.

An avid outdoorsman, Juan Solorio used his free time to camp, hike and rock climb with his brothers.

He also served as a scout master, which allowed him to share his interests with his sons, 11-year-old Julian and 8-year-old Maxmilian.

The soldier’s wife, Gabby, declined to be interviewed, but she, with her children, issued a written statement that described Solorio as “an extraordinary son, husband and soldier.”

“He died with his boots on and we would have had it no other way,” his wife said.

“Everything he did was done with pride and humor and he was my best friend and the love of my life. We were going to celebrate our 12th anniversary on March 18. We now laugh and cry, because he was a good, fun man, and there is no one who knew him who is not going to miss him.”

Juan Solorio joined the Army after graduating from Dallas’ magnet high school for the health professions, where he learned to build crowns and dentures. He decided to make the military his career.

In addition to Thailand, Iraq and Washington state, Juan Solorio had been based in Hawaii and North Carolina.

“Every time he would see the transfers, he was thinking new training,” Gerald Solorio Jr. said.

Through e-mails and photographs, Juan Solorio shared stories about Iraq with his brothers. In one e-mail, he told them of seeing the area where, according to the biblical story, Jonah was swallowed by a whale.

“He looked at the historic significance, not just an area of conflict,” said his 27-year-old brother Fabian Solorio.

In another e-mail, Juan Solorio included a picture of him with an Iraqi soldier, telling his siblings the people of Iraq “needed to have the support so they could defend themselves.”

His wife said: “When he found out his deployment to Iraq was coming he did not hesitate. It was a just cause for him to fight for his country.”

Juan Solorio was the 144th Texan to die since fighting in Iraq began in March 2003.

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