EL PASO, Texas - Staff Sgt. Roberto Loeza was supposed to come home to El Paso from Afghanistan in a month, according to his family. Instead of planning a homecoming, however, his loved ones are planning a funeral.
28-year-old Loeza died May 25 in Charkh, Logar province, after his unit came under fire.
"We will always love him and cherish him and thank him for the sacrifice he made," Loeza's sister Karina Loeza-Gasca told ABC-7. "He died a hero and will be remembered as such."
The infantryman was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss.
Loeza-Gasca said her younger brother loved a good sense of humor about as much as he loved serving his country. "He was always cracking jokes," she said.
Loeza knew he wanted to be in the military since he was a boy, according to his sister. He went on to earn several medals and badges during his ten year military career and was awarded a purple heart.
Loeza is survived by a wife and a young son and daughter.
"He adored those two," said Loeza-Gasca.
Loeza will be one of several fallen Fort Bliss soldiers to be featured in a planned memorial. The memorial was envisioned by the Bulldog Brigade Memorial Association. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for June 25.
A news release by the association describes the memorial as such:
"The design features three granite-clad T-walls, paver stones and a bronze statue of a battle cross including a rifle, boots and helmet. Further plans include granite-clad benches, a bronze bulldog statue, and a 3/1 AD patch integrated into the design.
"One of the T-Walls will honor the Fallen Soldiers from Operation Iraqi Freedom, and a second T-Wall will honor the Fallen Soldiers from Operation Enduring Freedom. The Third T-Wall will incorporate the Brigade Crest and the crests of the Brigade?s six Battalions."