By Emily Howard
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD Twenty-one soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division and Louisiana and New York National Guards who lost their lives in the war on terror were honored with a memorial service on post Thursday, the first of the new year.
Seventeen of the soldiers were from National Guard units that trained at Fort Hood and assisted the 1st Cavalry with their mission.
The following soldiers from Fort Hoods First Team were killed in action last month in Iraq, two months before their scheduled return to the U.S.: Sgt. Jose Guerca Jr., 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment; Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Nyren, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment; Sgt. Michael Boatright, 20th Engineer Battalion; and Spc. Jose Riveraserrano, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.
Our country is indebted to them and to you we will always remember their sacrifice, Lt. Col. promotable Jim Davis, the 1st Cavalrys rear deputy commander, said to the fallen soldiers family and friends.
Brief statements of sympathy and praise for the soldiers sacrifices were given during the service.
Staff Sgt. Joseph DeWolf described Guerca as his right-hand man. He said that Guerca was dedicated to training his soldiers and could motivate anyone to do great things. Guerca left behind four children, one of whom was just born last week, DeWolf said.
Nyrens tactical expertise was often sought after by his fellow soldiers, said Staff Sgt. Michael Howard.
He was one of the strongest bolts that held together the First Team wheel, he said.
Riding bulls, shooting guns and hosting barbecues for his friends were Boatrights favor-ite pastimes, said Spc. Jeffrey Akins, his fellow soldier and friend. Akins said Boatright re-enlisted and was promoted to sergeant while in the country and volunteered to go into dangerous areas to be with his soldiers.
He was a dedicated and fearless leader, Akins said.
Riveraserrano, although he spoke just enough English to keep him out of trouble, was always a hard worker, said Sgt. Mark Black.
He was the type of guy you would always want in your Humvee, Black said. He was one of my best soldiers.
The 256th Louisiana National Guard Brigade conducted training at Fort Hood before deploying to Iraq to team up with the 1st Cavalry Division in September of last year. Maj. Tina Robison, a member of the brigade, gave those present a summary of the soldiers eulogies from Iraq.
She emphasized the role of the citizen soldier in the war on terror and the sacrifices these soldiers made.
One of the fallen guardsmen, Sgt. Christian Engledrum, was a member of the New York Fire Department and enlisted immediately after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks.
While assisting his fellow firefighters in the search effort at ground zero, a picture was snapped of Engledrum and the other men raising a flag a photo that has been immortalized as a portrait of American perserverance ever since.
Seven of these National Guard soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device struck their Bradley fighting vehicle in Baghdad on Jan. 6, the most Army casualties suffered in a single incident in the Iraq war, Robison said.
This incident contributed to the loss of six soldiers from the small community of Houma, La., a huge loss for a small community, she said.
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