Skip to comments.Lubbock family mourns the loss of a second son
Posted on 07/26/2006 9:36:57 AM PDT by WestTexasWend
LUBBOCK -- Less than two years ago, Roy Velez got the worst news a father could get: His oldest son was dead, killed during combat in Iraq.
This week, his pain only deepened with news that his youngest son had died in Afghanistan.
Military officials notified the Velez family Tuesday of the death of Army Pfc. Andrew Velez, 22. His brother, Army Spc. Jose A. Velez, 23, died in November 2004 in Fallujah when his unit came under fire while clearing an enemy stronghold.
"I can't be angry. I feel like my heart's been pulled out," Roy Velez said Tuesday. "We've done what the Lord allowed us to do for our country."
The military does not have a regulation prohibiting the deployment of family members at the same time. But families can request that relatives return home if one is killed or disabled.
After his brother's death, the military gave Andrew Velez the option of not returning to combat, Roy Velez said. But Andrew Velez told his father he wanted to return to fight, his father said.
"You always do it for your buddy next to you," Roy Velez recalled his younger son saying.
Roy Velez last talked to Andrew Velez on the phone Saturday. His son told him he'd had "six close calls" as they tracked Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, and that he was tired.
He was scheduled to return for 10 days of leave during the last week of August. "He said, 'Daddy, I'll see you in August,'" Roy Velez said.
Andrew Velez joined the Army about five years ago. He graduated in 2002 from Estacado High School in Lubbock. During his school years, he wrestled, played football and basketball and ran track. He also loved playing golf.
His older brother, Jose, joined the Army after graduating from the same high school in 2000 and hoped to attend medical school one day. He played football and was an honor student.
After his death, Jose Velez was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star and a Silver Star. But burglars stole them all from his parents' home in June.
On Monday, the medals were replaced, thanks to the assistance of U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Roy Velez said. "And today at 12:30 I learned my other son was killed in action," he said.
Andrew Velez's survivors include his wife, Veronica Velez; a daughter, Jasmine Jade, 5; and two sons, Jordan Davis, 3, and Jacob Andrew, 2.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006 Tragedy of war hits Velez family a second time BY JASON WOMACK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL
Roy Velez does not know how his son was killed in Afghanistan, but he knows that Andrew wasn't scared.
The 22-year-old Army specialist, when asked, told his father he was not frightened.
"If you're asking me if I'm afraid to die for my family, my God and my country, then no," Andrew Velez told his father before deploying to Afghanistan in March. "Every man has to overcome fear and the only way to do that is to meet it face to face."
Roy Velez has now lost two sons to war. Army Spc. Jose "Freddy" Velez, 23, was killed in Iraq in 2004.
"They are all I had," Roy said, sitting at his kitchen table, surrounded by family. "How do I replace their lives?"
No one answers.
Andrew left behind his wife, his family and his three children. He was planning to return to them next month during vacation.
Both soldiers attended Estacado High School. Both played football and both entered the Army to defend their country.
Their father prayed for them every day. He kept a stone in his pocket that carried a soldier's prayer printed across its surface.
"The light of God surrounds us, the love of God enfolds us, the prayer of God protects us, the presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are God is and all is well!"
Months after Freddy died, Roy said that he thought of his sons every time he held the stone.
He squeezed it between his thumb and forefinger in the Estacado High School library in May 2005. The school had just named a scholarship in Freddy's honor.
"The space between my fingers is the distance from me to them," he said of his sons. "It is my lifeline to them."
Roy said Tuesday night that he's done with stones.
"I'm going to throw them away," he said "They didn't do any good."
Although he said he no longer has faith in the stone, he, like his sons, never lost faith in prayer or in his children and their mission.
Andrew Velez always spoke frankly with his father about the war, about each of his six missions, about his sense of duty, and his steadfast belief that he was doing right.
"I'm just doing my job," he told his father. "Daddy, we are leading the way to victory."
Andrew knew the consequences of war. He flew home from Kuwait with his brother's body, escorting him from plane to plane as they made the long trip home to Lubbock where Freddy was laid to rest.
Details about Freddy's death also came to the family slowly.
They were told of how Freddy laid down fire while his fellow soldiers retreated from an enemy ambush and how Freddy saved laves before his was taken.
For his bravery, Freddy was awarded the Silver and Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
The medals were stolen from the Velez family home several weeks ago. The Army replaced them a day before Roy learned of Andrew's death.
Even though he knows nothing of Andrew's death, Roy Velez said that his son is a hero.
"He was just as great a hero as Freddy and all the soldiers," he said.
The family will hold a memorial celebration in honor of Andrew Velez. No plans have been finalized.
Prayers, heartfelt condolences.
We see a generation of young men and women who are willing to lay down their lives for this great country, and they are still signing up. It gives me hope.
As a veteran myself, if the memorial service is held on the weekend, I will take time to attend though it is a four hour roundtrip. I owe it to the men who died in service to our country and their family.
Scum. These medals have no monetary value. You can buy any medal (except the Medal of Honor) from any Nex or PX for under $10. Most ribbons are $.50 and devices are about a buck.
To steal something like this that has no street value but immeasurable sentimental value makes me steam with anger.
These brave warriors now sit with The Father in Heaven.
Prayers for the family.
This story reminds me of the story of the Sullivan's in WWII - they lost ALL 5 OF THEIR SONS.
While our soldiers make a sacrifice - so do the families who love them.
Prayers for this brave family.
Ohmigosh! God bless this family.
I immediately thought of the Sullivans also. I always love hearing that song about them, what a great tribute to them.
What would posses a person to steal something like that? Pehaps one of Cindy Sheehans' followers? That's dispicable!
Those are sons to take great pride in. My heart and prayers go out to their family and friends (with my hand over my heart). Thank God for such as these.
I am just FURIOUS!!
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