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Army Spc. Jesse M. Zamora

Died February 3, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom


22, of Las Cruces, N.M.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Feb. 3 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee in Bayji, Iraq.

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Las Cruces soldier killed in Iraq

By Felicia Fonseca

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE — Paula Gonzalez had only one question when Army officials showed up at her Las Cruces home: Which of her two sons was killed in Iraq?

“When you have two over there, it’s like hurry up, say which one,” she said by telephone from her home Sunday as the family looked at pictures of the slain soldier, Cpl. Jesse Zamora, 22, her youngest son.

On Friday, Zamora was killed when a roadside bomb blew up near his Humvee in Beiji, Iraq. A piece of shrapnel flew up and hit him, she said.

As he slipped away, Zamora asked one of his friends to hug him, Gonzalez said.

“It’s just incredible how close these guys are. They love each other so much,” she said.

Her other son, Tyrel Zamora, is stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, and is on his way home to attend his brother’s funeral.

Jesse Zamora was an infantryman assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. He was the sixth member of the Fort Campbell, Ky., 101st Airborne Division killed in Iraq since Wednesday in four separate incidents.

Jesse Zamora graduated from Mayfield High School in Las Cruces in 2002, joined the Army later that year and arrived at Fort Campbell in November 2003.

“He just had a longtime want to be in the military,” Gonzalez said.

He enjoyed being out in the desert near Las Cruces in his rust-colored GMC truck to practice shooting. Memories of his truck got him through tough times in Iraq, where he was on his second tour, she said.

“They always have a dream,” she said. “Some of them have a wife and kid. He didn’t. He had a truck.”

Zamora often would send his family requests for service on his truck — spray the bed liner or paint this, Gonzalez said. He said he would buy the tires when he returned home, his mother said.

Zamora’s most recent request was for his mother to send him a digital camera he had ordered. She packed it up Thursday with Valentine’s Day candy and put it in her Jeep to send Friday. But before she could get to the post office, she was notified of his death.

“I’m one of those (who believes) that everything happens for a reason,” she said.

Zamora outlined his future plans to his mother in an e-mail he sent her the day he died. He said he wanted to work for an old couple who has an electrical business, referring to his mother and stepfather.

“He was funny, he had this huge sense of humor,” Gonzalez said. “He was just a clown all the time. He was just incredible.”

She responded to his e-mail by writing, “the owner is old, but the bookkeeper is not.” She’s not sure her son received that message.

Zamora is survived by his mother and stepfather, Sergio “Nacho” Gonzalez of Las Cruces, his brother Tyrel Zamora and sister Christy Zamora of Phoenix. His biological father, Orlando Zamora, died when Jesse Zamora was 3 months old.

Funeral services are pending.

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New Mexico soldier to be buried next week

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — An Army corporal killed in Iraq will be buried Tuesday.

Jesse Zamora, 22, was killed Feb. 3 when a roadside bomb blew up near his Humvee in Beiji, Iraq. His mother, Paula Gonzalez, said a piece of shrapnel flew up and hit him.

Zamora’s body arrived Friday night in Las Cruces.

A viewing is scheduled Monday afternoon at Baca’s Funeral Chapel of Prayer in Las Cruces. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Tuesday morning at Immaculate Heart of Mary. Burial with full military honors from the 101st Airborne Division from Ft. Campbell, Ky., will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Zamora was an infantryman assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division.

He graduated from Mayfield High School in Las Cruces in 2002, joined the Army later that year and arrived at Fort Campbell in November 2003.

Zamora is survived by his mother and stepfather, Sergio “Nacho” Gonzalez of Las Cruces; his brother Army Spc. Tyrel Zamora of Las Cruces; and sister Christy Zamora of Mesa, Ariz. His biological father, Orlando Zamora, died when Jesse Zamora was 3 months old.

— Associated Press

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An emotional farewell for Las Cruces family

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Relatives said goodbye to Army Cpl. Jesse Zamora, 22, who was killed earlier this month during his second tour in Iraq.

Zamora was buried Tuesday with full military honors at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Earlier, a funeral Mass was celebrated at Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral on an emotional day for his family.

“At an early age, Jesse often said he wanted to be a soldier. And before long, he was one,” said Gerardo Gonzalez, Zamora’s uncle.

The 2002 Mayfield High School graduate died Feb. 3 when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Bayji, Iraq. Zamora, the third Las Cruces soldier killed in Iraq, was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Motorcyclists from the veterans groups Patriot Guard Riders and Rolling Thunder escorted the funeral procession to the cemetery. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Ky., where Zamora was stationed, carried his casket.

Students from Picacho Middle School, some waving American flags, lined up along Picacho Street to await the funeral procession.

“I just want to honor a fallen soldier and show respect,” seventh-grader Jarrett Samaniego said.

Zamora is survived by his mother, Paula, and stepfather, Sergio “Nacho” Gonzalez, as well as a brother, Army Spc. Tyrel Zamora, and a sister, Christy Zamora.

“I really don’t have much to say right now, but I know this much: Jesse’s up in heaven,” said Tyrel Zamora, who saluted as the honor guard removed an American flag from his brother’s coffin and presented it to his mother.

Tyrel Zamora, who was serving in Iraq when his brother died, was wounded during his first tour of duty in Iraq.

— Associated Press

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