Tonight, I write with a very heavy heart. In a war you expect to lose people. It is a hazard of the job for which you prepare yourself from the beginning. It might be someone in the unit that you don't know, someone that you do know, or it may even be you. You keep that knowledge with you always, so that you may soldier on when it happens. You expect it from all of the arhabi's dirty tricks; IED's, ambushes, suicide bombers, etc. You do not expect it from street punks while you are home on leave. The NightStalkers lost a very good man last night. Specialist Jorge Estrada was murdered while home on leave for the birth of his daughter. The loss of this fine Soldier is not just a loss to his family, the NightStalkers and the Army, but a loss to the American People. To say he was a good man is putting it too lightly. I had the good fortune to work closely with Specialist Estrada for several months when I was also the Communications Officer for the Battalion. He impressed me right from the beginning. The picture above was taken after we had just scored 20 out of 20 on the short-range marksmanship range in Texas during our pre-deployment training.
Jorge was a great Soldier and communications specialist. He was the total package; tough, disciplined, cheerful, a good marksman, and one of the few guys in the commo section that could work wonders with both encrypted radios and computers. I was telling our Operations Officer, Major D. tonight at dinner that he was the type of soldier that if every one in the unit was like him, a leader would never have any problems. Major D. responded that if one tenth of your soldiers were like him, that would still be the case. He made everyone around him better, just by example, and without fanfare or flamboyance. He was the consummate quiet professional. He never complained, usually because he was too busy cracking jokes while getting the job done.
Jorge joined the Army several years ago, originally serving with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. After coming home intact from one combat tour, he joined the National Guard with plans to attend college. These plans were sidetracked when the NightStalkers needed to plug gaps in our ranks before going to Iraq. Jorge answered when the call went out across the California Guard for volunteers. He performed well at all times and always kept us talking. He was indispensible to me in setting up a local area network (LAN) when most of the aging Guardsmen in the Communications section, while being whizzes with radios, were not up to speed on computers and network architecture. We spent many long days and nights working together getting everything up and running.
He was also the quality of man that his killer could never be. Recently married, Jorge was home on leave for the birth of his daughter, who is now 5 days old. His wife had another daughter from a previous relationship with the killer, that Jorge was raising as his own. He was that type of guy. He did right by his woman, right by his kids, even when they weren't his, and right by his country. He went above and beyond the call in every regard. I know that had he perceived a threat from this scumbag that sucker-shot him, I would not be writing this post now, because that scumbag would be in the hospital or jail, and Specialist Estrada would still be enjoying his leave with his wife and daughters.
He was expected back here in the sandbox about two weeks from now. I will miss him as will all of us here. I pray that he rests well in Heaven, that his family finds peace, and that his murderer receives swift and severe justice. Authorities ask that anyone with information about Fabian Cayetano Urrea's whereabouts call 911 or the Murrieta Police Department at (951) 696-3615.
Or just hold him for me until I get home....