Spc. Wilfredo Perez Jr.
- Date of passing: Jul 26, 2003
|Let the memory of Spc. Wilfredo be with us forever|
24, Norwalk, Conn.; assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; killed July 26 as a result of a grenade being thrown from a window of an Iraqi civilian hospital he was helping guard in Baqubah, Iraq. Family, friends remember slain soldier at memorial service NORWALK, Conn. — Veterans and elected officials walked down the middle aisle of the church as people in the pews sang “America the Beautiful” in an Aug. 20 memorial service for Army Spc. Wilfredo Perez Jr. Perez, 24, of Norwalk, and two other soldiers died July 26 during a grenade attack in Iraq as they were guarding a children’s hospital in Baqubah, Iraq. He was the third Connecticut serviceman to die in Iraq. The procession inside the church included the American Legion Post 12, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 603 and the Military Order of the Purple Heart. An American flag and a wreath of red, white and blue flowers surrounded a picture of Perez at the front of the church. The turnout of nearly 500 friends, neighbors and other loved ones touched Perez’s family. “Within the community they have supported my brother so much,” said Perez’s sister, Wilma Wickliffe of Queens, N.Y. “It’s just unfortunate that you have to lose one to get this attention.” Family members thanked Norwalk residents for their outpouring of love and support, The Advocate of Stamford and The Hour of Norwalk reported. At the service at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Perez’s aunt, Senovia Ramirez, said she had searched for a way to express her gratitude to the city where Perez grew up. Ramirez read a short poem, “something simple,” that she said “Junior” would have liked. “My family and I will never forget ... the support and unity that Norwalk has shown in remembering Junior as one of our own,” she said. The Rev. Richard D. Murphy, reading the homily, said Perez joins the great men and women who have given all and reminded listeners that the young soldier fell doing his duty and giving his best while defending children. Freedom is not free, Murphy said. State Rep. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, related Perez’s last duty — guarding the children’s hospital — to the young soldier’s love for children. State Sen. Robert Genuario, R-Norwalk, expressed the condolences of the entire General Assembly. Other speakers included state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and state Treasurer Denise L. Napier. Perez was given full military funeral and buried near his mother’s home in Queens on Aug. 8. Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp said the city would work to raise the funds to establish a memorial to Perez along the Norwalk River. “I just want the family to know that all of Norwalk will treat this loss as our own loss,” Knopp said. “Junior’s courageous life and gallant death will never be forgotten in the city he called home.” Rep. Christopher Shays commended Perez’s bravery in a letter to the family, which was read during the service. “Wilfredo helped free a nation and he was working to help rebuild it,” Shays wrote. “As we remember Wilfredo tonight, we can take solace in the knowledge that his effort was exceptional.”
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