Skip to comments.Family loses son in Iraq, then house to fire
Posted on 01/03/2006 10:34:52 AM PST by KeyLargo
Family loses son in Iraq, then house to fire
By Marni Pyke Daily Herald Staff Writer Posted Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Vietnam War veteran Jesse Alcozer isnt used to asking for help.
But a series of traumas the death of his son in Iraq, protests by a hate group at the funeral and a fire that left the Alcozer family homeless proved too much to endure.
We just need a little bit of help, said Alcozer, his voice breaking during a news conference Monday afternoon.
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn is organizing a fundraising effort to assist the Elmhurst family. The Alcozers rental house went up in flames Dec. 27 when a candle burning in a shrine for U.S. Army Pfc. Christopher Alcozer set his picture on fire.
The only spot of good news was that firefighters rescued medals belonging to Christopher and the flag that had draped his coffin.
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, left, helps launch a fundraiser for the Alcozers family in front of their burned out home. Jesse Alcozer, holds on to the flag given to the family after his son, Christopher, died in Iraq. The flag was one of the few things rescued from the fire. Its a part of my son. It means a lot, Alcozer said.
The family is temporarily staying at a hotel, but money is tight.
Alcozer, who is disabled as a result of being wounded seven times in Vietnam, lost his job some months ago, and his veterans benefits were cut 20 percent just before Christophers death Nov. 19.
The Community Bank of Elmhurst has set up a fund to help the Alcozers, who didnt have renters insurance, get back on their feet.
Quinn appealed for donations, saying even a dollar is important.
When something bad happens to one of us, the entire Illinois community comes together, Quinn said.
Firefighters estimated the damage to the 1880s frame house on North Michigan Avenue in eastern Elmhurst at $100,000.
Members of the Alcozer family, including two young grandchildren, were relaxing and watching a movie together around 9 p.m. Dec. 27 when the fire struck.
The next thing we knew, the fire alarm went off, said Judy Alcozer, Jesses wife.
She tried to extinguish the flames, but the fire spread too rapidly.
I prayed that we all got out alive, Jesse Alcozer said.
While watching the destruction, the couple told emergency workers about the flag and medals. Firefighters Eric Burmeister and Kevin Cwirla, who is a retired National Guard staff sergeant, hurried to salvage them.
His son gave the ultimate sacrifice, and we hoped we could alleviate the pain, Cwirla said.
The good Lord has a way of doing things, Alcozer said.
The family is steeped in military history. Jesses father and grandfather served, and he has two sons enlisted.
Christopher grew up hoping to follow in his dads footsteps.
My son always believed in America, Jesse said.
Christopher attended Willowbrook High School in Villa park, where he was on the wrestling team and played in the orchestra.
He died at age 21 during a skirmish in the town of Mosul, Iraq, while his unit was looking for suspected terrorists holed up in a house, Jesse said.
Christopher was fatally shot while covering other soldiers as they removed the wounded.
He couldnt walk away. He stood his ground. He wanted to make sure his Army friends got out alive, Alcozer said. At the last minute he was killed.
Adding to the familys grief were protesters who demonstrated outside the funeral with signs saying, Thank God for Dead Soldiers.
The group has targeted military burials, contending that the deaths of soldiers are divine retribution for societys toleration of homosexuals.
The experience was unbelievably hurtful, Alcozer said.
Cant people just stay away? he said. For someone to come and protest its just too painful.
Quinn, who got to know the family after Christophers death, is spearheading legislation to keep protesters away from mourners at funerals.
The familys plight drew the sympathy of Yorkville retirees Walter and Kathe Evers.
Although on a limited income, the two showed up to donate to the fund.
Its heartbreaking, Walter Evers said.
Sentiments like that are worth as much as the money, Alcozer said.
Im a little happier because the community cares.
Jesse Alcozer Family Fund Community Bank of Elmhurst 330 Butterfield Rd. Elmhurst, IL 60126
I cannot imagine how people who protest at soldiers' funerals live with themselves. One of these days they are going to make the wrong people very angry.
Fred Phelps I bet.
"What idiot group is that???"
The Rev. Fred Phelps and crew, out of Kansas. They're idiots. I wish that the whole lot of them could be tossed into jail.
Some group from Kansas. They were active here in Boise too.
Now is the time to get very, very angry.
Jail would be too good for them. Maybe the IRS should investigate their "church".
Check is on the way. This is a check which might have gone to the RNC. However, the RNC is doing badly enough without my check. I don't see where my money would help them do worse.
I've never heard of them. How unfortunate that their obsession with homosexuality blinds them to common decency. I don't approve of homosexuality either, but I'd never hurt innocent people to register my disapproval. Phelps is ineffective, too, since his group's actions won't accomplish his goal and will create resentment against Christians.
Thanks for the info, Mila.
[...divine retribution for societys toleration of homosexuals...]
I don't believe the reporter got this right. The funeral
protestors are simply liberal vermin. To attach a faith
based issue to this is not an accident. To suggest this
is unconscionable AND SICK!!! Somebody straighten this
I wonder how much fun it would be to play "paintball" with them? See how many you can hit while they scatter. Most points taken wins a free round of beer and pizza. :D
It's reminiscent of the story of Job.
[...The Rev. Fred Phelps and crew, out of Kansas...]
What do you want to bet this guy is taking money
from moveon.org to pose as a Christian? It's time
to FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!
< snip >
Jesse Alcozer is a disabled Vietnam Marine veteran who was shot 7 times in Vietnam. He was listed as Missing in Action until he was able to make his way back to his unit after they thought he was dead. As a result of his disabilities he is not able to work. Just before Christophers death Jesse found out that the Federal Veterans Affairs cut his disability benefits from 100% to 80%. Lt Governor Quinns office is working to get the situation corrected.
He currently has two other sons serving in the Army and 4 children at home.
The family was renting the home and did not have renters insurance, so as a result they do not have the resources replace their losses and a place to live.
< snip >
Jesse Alcozer Family Fund
Community Bank of Elmhurst
c/o Nancy Brook
330 W. Butterfield Road
Elmhurst, IL 60126
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.