Wednesday, July 26, 2006

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Baumholder mourns another 2nd BCT soldier killed in Iraq

By Terry Boyd, Stars and Stripes


BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Spc. Manuel J. Holguin liked to show the world his tough side. And he was a tough soldier, says his friend, Staff Sgt. Nathan Holtgrewe, 26, from Phoenix.

But if you knew him — really knew him — you’d see the real Manuel Holguin, “who had a joyous heart,” said Cindy Salas.

Holtgrewe and Salas were among a group of Holguin’s friends quietly grieving after Holguin’s memorial at Good Samaritan Chapel in Baumholder. Holguin, 21, of Woodlake, Calif., died July 15 when his foot patrol was hit by a roadside bomb and small-arms fire in Baghdad. About 300 people packed the chapel Friday on a hot afternoon to pay tribute to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s 13th fallen soldier since March.

In her remarks, Maj. Jeanine White, 2nd Brigade rear detachment commander, noted the losses and their collective effect on this 1st Armored Division base.

“What makes us so unique, so special to each other, is the way we live,” White said. Soldiers in U.S. Army Europe communities “live for each other”: work and play together, from the spouse working in the shoppette to the captain volunteering as a T-ball coach.

“And today, we mourn all together, all of us, in our own way, but together,” White said. In such communities, people become close and know each other well.

Holguin was one of those soldiers “you don’t have to tell to keep working,” said Holtgrewe, his fellow soldier in Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment. “He kept working till the job was done.”

His friend did two Iraq deployments without going home on leave. He came from a military family, and his cousin, Ian Holguin, is a first lieutenant with the 3rd Infantry Division, Holtgrewe said.

Get past the tough soldier, and you found a California guy “through and through. He was lighthearted, always smiling,” Holtgrewe said. His friend loved cars and owned an old Chevy Impala and a Silverado truck. “But when he saw someone was going to take a picture, he put on that tough face. That’s not how he was. He was like a little kid.”

Salas said losing Holguin was especially tough for her family. Her husband, Sgt. Castulo Salas, and Holguin had served in Iraq together during the 1st AD’s first Iraq rotation. She knew a soldier so close to his parents that he was always talking to them by phone. She knew a soldier who, instead of ignoring her 6-year-old daughter, Yasarah, became a favorite friend.

“He was my daughter’s big brother,” said Cindy Salas. “That’s why it’s so heartbreaking.”

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