BELL GARDENS, CA, USA U.S. Army CPL, COMPANY C, 4TH BATTALION, 9TH INFANTRY, 4 BCT, FORT LEWIS, WA
BALAD, IRAQ 03/07/2008
Corporal Jose A. Paniagua-Morales, 22, was from Bell Gardens, Calif., the Pentagon said. He died from wounds at the U.S. military hospital in Balad.
Paniagua-Morales graduated from high school and joined the Army in September 2004 and arrived at Fort Lewis the following January after initial training at Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which began a 15-month deployment to Iraq last April.
Since November the brigade has taken the lead in operations to clear al-Qaida in Iraq fighters from Diyala province and, in more recent months, in some of the towns and cities farther north.
The City of Lakewood (Washington), which has a special “connector community” relationship with the 4th Brigade, made note of the fact that this would be the first local funeral for a unit soldier. They mostly hail from other parts of the country.
“It’s an honor for Lakewood,” said Councilwoman Claudia Thomas, who has attended memorial services at Fort Lewis for other soldiers.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Corporal Jose A. Paniagua-Morales of Bell Gardens, CA:
“Corporal Jose Paniagua-Morales was a true patriot who gave his life in the defense of liberty. He fought with honor, bravery and loyalty to our country and his fellow soldiers. On behalf of the people of California, Maria and I offer our prayers and deepest condolences to Jose’s loved ones as they mourn the loss of an extraordinary Californian.”
In honor of Corporal Paniagua-Morales, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.
Corporal Paniagua-Morales enlisted in the Army at Los Angeles — where he had been born on May 19, 1985 — on Sept. 7, 2004. He reported to Fort Benning, Ga., on Sept. 17, 2004, for initial entry training. He reported to Fort Lewis Jan. 5, 2005, where he was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (later reflagged 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division). He was assigned to the brigade’s 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment on Jan. 31, 2005. The brigade deployed to Iraq in April, 2007.
Corporal Paniagua-Morales was promoted from Specialist posthumously. His awards and decorations include the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon.
Corporal Paniagua-Morales is survived by his mother, who lives in California, and his wife.
In the Mountain View Funeral Home Guestbook, the father of one of Corporal Paniagua-Morales’s fellow soldiers left this poignant message:
I learned of the death of Jose from my son PFC Patrick Degeus. Patrick was with Jose when their Stryker was hit and called me to tell me about the tragedy how proud he was to have known Jose and to have called him his Army “buddy.”
My love and prayers are all I have to offer. My thanks to our hero Jose for keeping our Nation safe.