Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Christian A Guzman Rivera - www.IraqWarHeroes.org

Christian A Guzman Rivera

Homestead, Florida

August 6, 2009

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
21 Marine Cpl

3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force

Okinawa, Japan

 Killed while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan.

Christian A Guzman Rivera - www.IraqWarHeroes.org Christian A Guzman Rivera - www.IraqWarHeroes.org

Marine Cpl Rivera was assigned to the 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan. He died while supporting combat operations. Christian graduated in 2006 from Homestead Senior High School in Homestead, Florida where he enrolled in the ROTC program. He went on to train as an EMT and graduated from the Miami-Dade Fire Academy – his goal was to become a firefighter. Christian thrived on challenges so he joined the Marines with some friends. The Marines was a good choice for him – he was proud of what he was doing and wanted to do it. He would try to reassure his mother every time he talked to her that he would be careful and would say, "Don't worry. I'll be alright." Christian was outgoing, fun and extremely competitive. He loved to spend time with his friends and would tease his brother about the heavy weights he could lift – he also enjoyed playing paintball. Christian's uncle made a plea – "to everybody out there – every time you see a service man – say thank you. Thank you for the service you've done." 
The Miami Herald: Fallen Marine's mother carries on, offering comfort to others and expressing pride in her son
May 9, 2011 Issues: Veterans
She also has framed letters of condolence from President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, and 1st Lt. Eming Luo, commander of Guzmán’s squad. Guzmán was a battalion engineer in the Marines’ Third Division.

“Velma is a strong woman, beautiful inside and outside,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who has kept in contact with the family. “I’m so impressed that all members of the family are volunteering. They are an example, an inspiration.”

The congresswoman said that both Torres and her husband, Félix, Christian’s stepfather, never miss a patriotic, military or veterans event in Miami-Dade County. They always wear T-shirts with their fallen son’s image.

Posted on Sun, May. 08, 2011

Fallen Marine’s mother carries on, offering comfort to others and expressing pride in her son

By DANIEL SHOER ROTH
The Miami Herald

Velma Tores holds her son Christian Guzman Rivera's dogtag at her home in Miami. Guzman Rivera, a U.S. Marine, was killed in Afghanistan in August 2009.

To most of those who know her, Velma Torres is the mother of Christian Guzmán Rivera, a U.S. Marine who died in Afghanistan. But she refuses to be a victim. Instead of seeking consolation for her loss, she prefers admiration for her son.
“The way I see it is that now I’m not only Christian’s mother, but the mother of a national hero,” Torres says. “This carries a responsibility before the community and the world.”

Since Guzmán lost his life at age 21 in August 2009, Torres has made it her job to extol her son’s courage and sacrifice in Operation Enduring Freedom.

If organizers of a military ceremony look for a fallen soldier’s mother to offer her testimony, she is always willing to share her story. If the mother of another dead soldier is depressed, she visits her and offers encouragement.

“We sit down and cry together, talk about the memories of our sons and unburden ourselves,” says Torres, a 49-year-old postal worker. “My son’s story has been an inspiration to other people, has opened people’s eyes.”

To help her highlight those achievements, Torres has created a modest museum in her home in Homestead, where she treasures his medals, plaques, diplomas and photographs. She has her son’s uniform framed and hanging on her wall.

Guzmán’s comrades-in-arms presented her with the flag of their base in the western Afghanistan province of Farah, near the border with Iran, which also decorates her wall. In a glass display case, she keeps a replica of a brick with Christian’s name that is now part of a memorial in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where he received his military training.

She also has framed letters of condolence from President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, and 1st Lt. Eming Luo, commander of Guzmán’s squad. Guzmán was a battalion engineer in the Marines’ Third Division.

But the most valuable memento is a burned military dog tag that Guzmán carried with him when his Humvee blew up as it rolled over a mine. Torres considers the dog tag her Mother’s Day present because ever since three Marines knocked at her door to break the news she so desperately feared since Guzmán enlisted in 2007, Torres had wanted to have something her son had carried with him the day he died.

“Every day I would tell myself that I would give anything to have something of his,” she says.

Every time she asked military authorities whether they had found something, the answer was no. “They told me it was impossible.”

But last year she found an old message on her Facebook page from a woman who wanted to tell her something confidential about her son. She had worked as a mechanic at another base in Farah province. It had to do with something “supernatural,” but she had to believe her.

Months after the explosion, the mechanic was working at a shop where destroyed vehicles were taken to cannibalize their usable parts. She had just finished inspecting one of the totaled Humvees when, she told Torres, she felt a strong force that kept her from moving. Then she heard a voice that said, “Search.” She kept searching until she found the dog tag.

Fourteen months after her son’s death, Torres’ prayers were answered.

“I know this was his present,” says Torres, a Catholic who says she has managed to remain serene thanks to her prayers.

Before Guzmán joined the Marines, he was part of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at Homestead Senior High School. He later graduated as a firefighter from the Miami-Dade academy, where, according to his brother Jonathan, 20, he enjoyed the adrenaline of the life-and-death tightrope.

“The [Miami-Dade] Fire Rescue Department had implemented a hiring freeze,” Jonathan said. “That is why he joined the Marines, so that he could find a job as a Miami-Dade firefighter when he returned.”

Guzmán kept his enlistment secret until a month before he had to leave. Torres says she begged him not to go.

“Since he told me he was leaving, I had this premonition that this was the way it was going to be, that he was going to die in the war,” says Torres.

Although they kept in contact almost daily either by telephone or online, Torres spent her nights in anguished prayer. She began isolating herself from others. Then came the darkest day of her life.
“When you receive the news it is like your heart is being torn out,” says Torres.

She buried her son on Aug. 15, 2009, at Woodlawn Park South Cemetery, surrounded by family members, police officers, firefighters and Marines. The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department named Guzmán an honorary member, and he has a locker reserved for him, with his helmet and boots, at the Homestead station.

For a year and a half, Torres the cemetery every day after work. Now she visits three or four times a week.

“Velma is a strong woman, beautiful inside and outside,” said Ros-Lehtinen, who has kept in contact with the family. “I’m so impressed that all members of the family are volunteering. They are an example, an inspiration.”

The congresswoman said that both Torres and her husband, Félix, Christian’s stepfather, never miss a patriotic, military or veterans event in Miami-Dade County. They always wear T-shirts with their fallen son’s image.

When they see servicemen and women in uniform on the street, they greet them and thank them for their service. In early April they went to a food festival in Pompano Beach and approached an exhibit kiosk where funds were being raised to support the troops. When the soldiers saw that Torres had a “Golden Mother” collar, given to those who lose a son or daughter in the war, they were stunned.

“People automatically have tears in their eyes,” says Torres. However, she does not cry because she feels that her son is still with her spiritually.

The night before he died, Guzmán changed the description of his mood in his MySpace profile from “tired” to “blessed.” That was his farewell message.

In a visit to Miami in 2008, the Marine gave his mother a huge card that is now in her home museum, a token of his eternal love.

“Mami, blessings. I love you very much! Thank you for all the things you have done and have given, big or small,” he wrote. “I know that sometimes I act as if I didn’t care, but I am extremely grateful. Though I am not here often I hope our relationship keeps improving. Thanks for making me man that I am, for without you I wouldn’t be here standing tall, as you say. I am always here for you, Mami. I love you, Christian.”
CORPORAL CHRISTIAN A. GUZMAN RIVERA POST OFFICE BUILDING
(House of Representatives - September 08, 2014)
[Pages H7259-H7260]
CORPORAL CHRISTIAN A. GUZMAN RIVERA POST OFFICE BUILDING

Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 5030) to designate the facility of the United 
States Postal Service located at 13500 SW 250 Street in Princeton, 
Florida, as the ``Corporal Christian A. Guzman Rivera Post Office 
Building''.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The text of the bill is as follows:

H.R. 5030

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. CORPORAL CHRISTIAN A. GUZMAN RIVERA POST OFFICE 
BUILDING.

(a) Designation.--The facility of the United States Postal 
Service located at 13500 SW 250 Street in Princeton, Florida, 
shall be known and designated as the ``Corporal Christian A. 
Guzman Rivera Post Office Building''.
(b) References.--Any references in a law, map, regulation, 
document, paper, or other record of the United States to the 
facility referred to in subsection (a) shall be deemed to be 
a reference to the ``Corporal Christian A. Guzman Rivera Post 
Office Building''.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Georgia (Mr. Collins) and the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Danny K. 
Davis) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia.


General Leave

Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill which is now under 
consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Georgia?
There was no objection.
Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as she may 
consume to the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen), and it is 
with great joy that I look forward to her remarks and her speaking on 
this important measure.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Mr. Collins and 
especially Mr. Issa, the chairman of the Oversight and Government 
Reform Committee, as well as our ranking member, for approving this 
bill and for

[[Page H7260]]

bringing it one step closer to its full consideration by the House 
today.
This legislation would name a post office in my congressional 
district in Princeton, Florida, an area in the southern part of Miami-
Dade County, after a local hero, Marine Corporal Christian A. Guzman 
Rivera, who was killed by an IED, an improvised explosive device, while 
serving our country in Afghanistan.
Christian was 21 years old, and was killed in the western province of 
Afghanistan in a place called Farah by the enemies of freedom and 
democracy.
Christian was born on the tropical island of Puerto Rico on December 
3, 1987. Two years later he moved with his family to south Florida, 
where he attended our public schools and joined the Junior ROTC at 
Homestead Senior High School.
Previously a shy boy, Christian became a more confident young man 
through his leadership experience in JROTC.
Upon graduation from Homestead High in 2006, he enrolled in Miami-
Dade County's Fire Rescue Academy and graduated from the firefighter 
program. Christian also became a certified emergency medical 
technician, an EMT.
But Christian, who was always dedicated to public service, also 
wanted to serve our country in our Armed Forces. His peers say that for 
Christian, becoming a Marine was not a spur of the moment decision, it 
was his destiny. He knew it all along.
As the proud wife of a Vietnam combat veteran who volunteered for 
service and was severely injured in battle, and as the stepmother of 
two Marine aviators, I am familiar with this military calling.
During a time when the United States was involved in wars in both 
Iraq and Afghanistan, Christian volunteered for Active Duty service. He 
enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In May 2009, Christian was deployed to Afghanistan as a combat 
engineer attached to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
In Afghanistan, Christian excelled. He understood his duties and his 
responsibilities and carried them out to the best of his abilities. He 
was known to be one of the most dependable combat engineer Marines in 
the battalion.
When his squad leader was wounded and hospitalized for a month, 
Christian stepped up and assumed his leadership role. Other Marines 
sometimes requested him specifically by name to accompany them on 
dangerous patrols.
First Lieutenant Enming Lou, a former Marine Corps officer, said this 
about Christian A. Guzman Rivera: ``Senior explosive technicians 
thought of Christian as among the best combat engineers in the 
battalion.''
On August 6, 2009, Christian was killed while serving during 
Operation Enduring Freedom in Farah Province, Afghanistan. Christian 
made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of liberty and democracy, the 
cornerstones of America's ideals.
His military awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation 
Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Five years have passed, and Christian was and still is deeply missed 
by close friends in south Florida, by fellow Marines who had the 
privilege of serving with him, and a close-knit family who could never 
replace the void left in their lives.
He is survived, loved, and remembered by his mother, Velma, a 
wonderful lady; by his wonderful stepdad, Felix; his brother, Jonathan; 
his uncle, Chris, and aunts Rebecca and Vilma; his grandmother, Carmen; 
and cousins and friends who have endured great pain remembering 
Christian's sacrifice in the name of country and honor.
Mr. Speaker, Christian's brave service exceeded all measures of 
selflessness and devotion to our country, and I encourage my colleagues 
to honor Corporal Christian Guzman's memory and support this bill.
I am proud to name the Corporal Christian A. Guzman Rivera Post 
Office Building after our local hero who courageously sacrificed his 
life in the line of duty so that we could enjoy the freedom that makes 
our wonderful country so special.
Christian is deserving of our continuous praise and gratitude, and I 
am humbled in presenting this bill to my colleagues, and I pray that 
our good Lord will continue to give strength to Christian's family.
Mr. DANNY K. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time 
as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I don't think there is any greater service that one can 
give than to give the gift of their life fighting for their country. 
Therefore, I am pleased to join my colleagues in the consideration of 
H.R. 5030, a bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal 
Service located at 13500 Southwest 250 Street in Princeton, Florida, as 
the Corporal Christian A. Guzman Rivera Post Office Building.
A native of Homestead, Florida, Christian Guzman Rivera graduated 
from Homestead Senior High's ROTC program in 2006.

{time} 1530

With dreams of becoming a Marine firefighter, Christian graduated 
from the Miami-Dade Fire Academy, and in 2007, was assigned as a 
battalion engineer in Okinawa, Japan.
Tragically, on August 6, 2009, after having just received a promotion 
to corporal, Christian Guzman Rivera was killed while supporting combat 
operations in Afghanistan. Although he never got the chance to fight 
fires as he had hoped, Corporal Rivera was named an honorary member of 
the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, and he still remains a role 
model to his younger siblings.
Mr. Speaker, we should pass this bill, H.R. 5030, to recognize 
Corporal Christian Guzman Rivera's honor, courage, and sacrifice.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, as has been stated by my friend, 
Reverend Davis, and also by my dear friend from Florida (Ms. Ros-
Lehtinen), at this point, you do not have to live many decades to live 
a full and vibrant life.
This young man proved that you can live a full life if you live each 
of your days to their fullest. To his credit, we will be proving this, 
that spirit of living a life that is full and in service to others.
With that, I would ask all of my colleagues to support H.R. 5030, and 
I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Collins) that the House suspend the rules 
and pass the bill, H.R. 5030.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

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