Remembering Specialist Marisol Heredia.

In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, when you look up the words "courage",

"strength", and "determination" you will find the following:


: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger,

fear, or difficulty


1: the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance


3 a: the act of deciding definitely and firmly; also : the result of such an

act of decision b: firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end <a woman

of great courage and determination.

I am convinced that instead of those three descriptions, there should be a

photo of my hero, Specialist Marisol Heredia.

I didn't know Marisol personally, but I knew of her and since her passing I

have learned about her. She served with my husband in the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood,

Texas. The unit had left Texas in October of 2006 to begin their deployment

as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Marisol became injured on July 18, 2007 while refueling a generator. She

ended up being very badly burned and was transported to Brooke Army Medical

Center in San Antonio, Texas. I cannot even begin to describe how scared I

was once I had heard of the incident. Scared for Marisol and scared for her

family. If you aren't a religious person before hearing of an incident like

hers, you become one. I found myself praying more prayers daily -- for

Marisol, for her family, for her doctors and for our unit. Though badly

burned, she had the courage and strength to fight her injuries and not

succumb to them shortly after they happened. She was determined to fight

off the pneumonia that had set in, and did. She fought every single day to

gain strength beyond what she already had in her soul in order to battle the

injuries. She was strong, she had courage, and she was determined.

Unfortunately, Marisol did end up succumbing to her injuries on September 7,

2007. She was 19 years old. 9 days later, on September 16, 2007; she was

buried in Louisiana on what would have been her 20th birthday.

I believe it was in early October, when a memorial service was held for her

and the other fallen 1st Cav Soldiers from the month of September 2007 at

the Cav Chapel on Fort Hood. I was in attendance for that and will never

forget it. Approximately 18 soldiers were memorialized that day. Several

of whom had family members in attendance. One by one, fellow soldiers gave

eulogies of the fallen. Every now and then, there would be a memory to make

someone chuckle, and soon after tears would be seen falling down the cheeks

of those sitting in the chapel -- mine included. There were so many

thoughts running through my head during that 1.5 hours in the chapel. I

found myself thinking of their families, of the kids left behind, of those

that were still in Iraq (including my now husband, but then fiance'), and of

those that would never have the opportunity to meet them and be honored to

do so. One of the hardest parts that day was the roll call and 21 gun

salute that began after the memorial service. It was something that I had

not expected and definitely not something that I had prepared for. One by

one, a Sergeant First Class called off names of soldiers in attendance, and

then would call those who were not there. Suddenly, after hearing, "Here

First Sergeant!" you'd hear the Sergeant First Class call, "Specialist

Heredia... " and nobody answered. So he once again says, "Specialist

Marisol Heredia... " and nobody answered. And a final time he says,

"Specialist Marisol Heredia!" There was no answer, nobody in the room by

that name to say, "Here First Sergeant!" Tears streamed down my face and I

lost my composure during that moment -- just as I am now while writing about

it and remembering it, and just as I do everytime we went to the 1st Cav

Memorial on Fort Hood and the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery Memorial near

Killeen, Texas and I see her name and photo.

As stated previously, I never had the honor to formally meet Marisol. I

wish I had though. From what I know; she was strong, she was full of

courage and she was determined. I will never forget her and the impact that

she has made on my life.

Chris Dom