William F Ortega
June 18, 2010
Killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device blast while conducting combat operations against enemy forces. Ortega was assigned as a hospital corpsman.
Dignified Transfer at Dover AFB
|On Friday, Seaman William F. Ortega will return home.
After graduating from South Dade Senior High in 2005, he joined the U.S. Navy in May 2008 and moved to Camp Pendleton in California to train as a corpsman, which is similar to a medic.
"He wanted to deploy. He wanted to serve his country,'' said friend Ana Miller, "and he did.''
Ortega died June 18, two days before Father's Day, after a bomb exploded as he rode in a patrol vehicle ``while conducting combat operations against enemy forces,'' in Helmand Province, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
At the start of training in California, adjusting to West Coast life was hard for Ortega, Miller said. But Ortega adapted and made friends, including Miller, 21, and her husband, Jeremy, a fellow corpsman.
Still, the 23-year-old longed for home.
"He was telling me that when he came back from his deployment, if he was given the choice of where to go, he was going to choose Miami,'' said Miller.
Ortega's relatives declined to comment, saying it was too difficult.
Ortega was deployed to Afghanistan, attached to the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
His battalion, nicknamed the Thundering Third, took full command of the province in May, when he was deployed overseas.
After the bombing, Ortega was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Non Article V Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
On Friday, his remains will be returned to South Florida in a private event for his family at Homestead Air Reserve Base. There will be a funeral Saturday in Kendall, after which his body will be taken to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be buried July 9, 2010.
He is survived by his parents, William and Marianela Ortega; sisters Karla Ortega, Edna Ortega, Maria Ortega, Aracely Ortega and Evelyn Lopez; brother-in-law Juan Martinez of the U.S. Navy; grandmother Gladys Francisca Gutierrez and grandfather Jose Centeno.
The local funeral will be at noon Saturday at Bernardo Garcia Funeral Home, 12050 SW 117th Ave.
The family asks that only family, friends and military and public officials attend.
|From DVIDS dvidshub.net 12/06/10:
3/1 holds memorial for the fallen
By Sgt. Heidi Agostini
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines and sailors paid tribute to their fallen comrades during a memorial ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Dec. 3.
Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, and family members honored the 14 men killed in action during the battalion’s deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan.
The battalion returned in November from a seven-month deployment to Garmsir District in southern Afghanistan, where they conducted counterinsurgency operations in support of Afghan national security forces and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
“I have found, as we return from Afghanistan, that much of the media coverage of this war is discouraging,” said the battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Benjamin Watson, during the memorial ceremony. “I can tell you however, that our recent experience in Garmsir District tells an entirely different story. These men we honor here today, and these men who stand here before you, have shown that winning is possible.”
The district the battalion left weeks ago was entirely different than the district they found when they arrived in April. By the time the battalion left, the insurgency was cleared from population centers, and for the first time in more than a decade, more than 3,000 children were attending school and the first all-girl school was near completion. The Afghan police patrolled the district and the Afghan army was growing in numbers. Elected locals represented their government and demonstrated resilience and the willingness to accept personal risk to invest in a brighter future.
The battalion’s success came at a cost. Among the fallen were two sailors, two Marines from I Marine Expeditionary Force, one Marine from 4th Marine Division and a British soldier from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
“On this day, we gather not to mourn, but to honor the memories and sacrifices of 14 men who join the distinguished fraternity of heroes,” Watson said. “These 14 men were courageous, strong and beloved. They fought for their friends and they fought for people who could not fight for themselves. It has been the most humbling experience of my life to not only see them in action, but to be considered worthy to stand up and fight in the company of such men.”
The fallen include:
- Gunnery Sgt. Floyd Holley, 36, Casselberry, Fla.
- Sgt. Brandon Bury, 26, from Kingwood, Texas
- Sgt. John Rankel, 23, Speedway, Ind.
- Sgt. Joseph Caskey, 24, Pittsburgh
- Sgt. Kenneth May, 26, Kilgore, Texas
- Cpl. Jeffery Johnson, 21, Tomball, Texas
- Cpl. Donald Marler, 22, St. Louis
- Cpl. Larry Harris, 24, Thorton, Colo.
- Cpl. Max Donahue, 23, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
- Cpl. Kristopher Greer, 25, Ashland City, Tenn.
- Lance Cpl. Derek Hernandez, 20, Edinburgh, Texas
- Petty Officer 3rd Class Zarian Wood, 29, Houston
- Seaman William Ortega, 23, Miami
- Cpl. Matthew Thomas, 24, Great Britain
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