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Army Staff Sgt. Justin L. Vasquez

Died June 5, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

26, of Manzanola, Colo.; assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colo.; killed June 5 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle in Baghdad. Also killed were Spc. Eric J. Poelman and Pfc. Brian S. Ulbrich.

Father of slain soldier hears praise from son’s comrades

Associated Press

MANZANOLA, Colo. — The father of a Fort Carson soldier killed in Iraq said other soldiers have called to tell him his son was a model warrior and a good leader.

Staff Sgt. Justin Lee Vasquez, 26, of Manzanola was killed in Baghdad on Sunday by an explosion near his military vehicle, the Department of Defense said.

Also killed were Pfc. Brian Scott Ulbrich, 23, of Chapmanville, W.Va., and Spc. Eric J. Poelman, 21, of Racine, Wis. All three were assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Carson, Colo. The unit was deployed to Iraq in March.

“He was a great soldier,” Vasquez’s father, Tino Vasquez, said Tuesday.

“Several of his Army friends have called me saying that he was a good leader — he took pride in being in the Army. He demanded perfection and he had everything just right,” he said.

Vasquez said two soldiers came to his house Sunday with the news.

“I knew in my heart exactly what they were about to tell me,” he said. “I met them halfway and everything else was a blur after that.”

Vasquez said he last spoke to his son on Mother’s Day.

“We said that when he got back we were going to go hunting. He wanted to go to Las Vegas as well. I told him to be careful and that I was here for him always,” he said.

Vasquez said he harbors no resentment toward President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

“I asked my son if he wanted to go there and he said ‘yes.’ He said that he had to be there with his men and his mission,” the father said.

Justin Vasquez is also survived by his wife, Kristi, and 4-year-old son Justin David Vasquez from a previous marriage.

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