December 04, 2009

Udall Honors Fallen NM Heroes on Senate Floor

Carrasco, Gallegos Died in Iraq While Serving their Country

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tom Udall, D-NM, today honored two New Mexico heroes who died recently in Iraq while serving their country with tribute remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Army Corporal Anthony "Tony" Carrasco, 25, was born in Las Cruces and raised in Berino, graduating from Gadsden High School in 2003. Carrasco, a truck commander for armored vehicles, died Nov. 4 after being hit by sniper fire in Ad Dawr, Iraq. He leaves behind a pregnant wife, two stepchildren, and his parents, among other family members.

New Mexico Army National Guard Spc. Joseph Gallegos, 39, was born in Taos and graduated from Questa High School in 1998. Gallegos, a light wheel vehicle mechanic, died after suffering a heart attack while serving in Iraq. Gallegos previously served four years of active duty in the Army and, as a civilian, worked for the Carson National Forest Service. He is survived by his parents and a brother.

These are Udall's remarks as prepared for delivery:

"Thank you, M. President. I rise today to honor a brave son of Anthony, New Mexico.

"Army Corporal Anthony Carrasco Jr., was killed Nov. 4 after being hit by sniper fire while serving his country in Iraq. He was 25 years old.

"Corporal Carrasco - or ‘Tony' as he was called by family and friends - was a husband and father and son. He and his wife, Johana, are expecting a child. And he had two small step-children who adored him.

"He served as truck commander for armored vehicles. It was Tony's job to direct his vehicle down streets infested with roadside bombs and targeted by insurgents attacking from the shadows of buildings. Tony understood the danger. He accepted the risk. And he died doing what he loved, serving a country he loved.

"His fellow soldiers described Tony as an optimist. His platoon sergeant, Timothy Brown, put it best: Tony ‘saw the good in everything. He was a soldier who never, ever complained.' Sgt. Brown called Tony ‘the best soldier I ever had.'

"As senators or as citizens, we cannot fully experience the sadness that Tony's family and friends are feeling. But when a soldier dies, the nation as a whole feels the loss. We are linked to Corporal Carrasco by the ties that bind a grateful nation to its faithful servant. His loss is ours.

"Please join me in honoring Anthony Carrasco, and extending our sympathies to his wife, Johana; his father, Antonio; his mother, Juana, and the rest of the Carrasco family.

"Before I close, I want to acknowledge the recent passing of another brave New Mexican. Joseph Gallegos, a specialist with the New Mexico Army National Guard, died of a heart attack while serving in Iraq. While his death wasn't due to injuries suffered in combat, that fact does not lessen the pain of his loss.

"Spc. Gallegos was 39 years old. He served with the Guard as a light wheel vehicle mechanic. When not serving his country, he worked for the Carson National Forest Service back home in Questa, New Mexico. Throughout his life, he also worked as a firefighter, an ambulance driver and a policeman.

"Spc. Gallegos gravitated toward work that allowed him to help his fellow citizens. While working for the Forest Service, he even saved a life - spotting a burning truck one day, he saw a man inside and pulled him to safety. As Spc. Gallegos' brother, Donald, said: "He was always taking different jobs, but they always put him in the service of others."

"Today, I ask you to join me in thanking Specialist Gallegos' family for his service, and for his sacrifice."