New York City, New York
December 20, 2002
|Was killed in action in Afghanistan when his unit came under attack from hostile forces.|
|"Sergeant Checo's death is a reminder to us of the sacrifices being made everyday by the dedicated men and women of our armed forces," said Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke. "His death, as well as his dedicated service, strengthens our resolve in pursuit of terrorists, terrorist networks and those who harbor and support them," she said.|
|From Michael Huffman 04/28/05:
There are three small photos attached of SGT Steven Checo. He was killed by small arms fire outside of Fire Base Shkin, Afghanistan while on patrol to intercept a group of 6-10 terrorists who were setting up 107mm rockets aimed at their base. It was 20 December, date easy for me to remember since I lost two men on the exact same date in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Michael Debloise and Vance Coates. Unfortunately there is no website for the men lost during that invasion.
(There is now www.OperationJustCause.org
| ELIZABETH, N.J. -- The family of a U.S. soldier killed during a firefight in Afghanistan mourned privately Sunday, with a note taped to their front door saying, "Please respect our privacy."
Sgt. Steven Checo, a 22-year-old paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, was shot Saturday during a gun battle in the eastern Afghanistan town of Shkhin.
He died during surgery at a field hospital, according to an Army statement from Fort Bragg, N.C., the home of the 82nd Airborne.
Checo was the first U.S. combat death in Afghanistan since August, and the 17th American killed in a hostile situation there since the war on terror began late last year.
Checo's uncle, Gilbert Checo of New York City, said the 22-year-old's parents two siblings are devastated about the death of a young man who was living his dream by serving in the armed forces.
"He had mentioned that he didn't like the food over there," Gilbert Checo said before paying his respects to the family. "That's the only thing he complained about."
He said the family moved to Elizabeth about three years ago from New York City to "make a better life."
Steven Checo's parents, Arelis and Nelson Checo, emigrated from the Dominican Republic 34 years ago, the uncle said. Nelson Checo moved to Tampa, Fla., after the couple divorced.
"The family is just trying to keep it together," he said.
Orlando Santiago, who ran a youth program in New York that Checo was involved with, said the young man died with honor.
"He served his country, this is what it's all about," Santiago said, adding that Checo had described the armed forces as his calling.
Santiago was among a stream of people who visited the family's home Sunday. A city police officer kept the media away from the house, where an American flag and a Dominican flag hung from an upstairs window.
A mass was performed for Checo on Sunday morning, said the Rev. Ronald Newland of St. Mary's of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church, where the family attends services.
Checo's body was flown Sunday to an American military base in Germany.
An Army honor guard received the flag-draped coffin as it was carried off a C-17 cargo plane at the Ramstein Air Base by a military detail around dawn.
It wasn't immediately clear when it would be flown on to the United States.
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