EMPORIA, KS, USA
SGT, COMPANY A, 4TH FORWARD SUPPORT BATTALION, (4ID), FORT HOOD, TX 76544
KIRKUK, IRAQ 01/31/2004
Army Sergeant Banuelos was assigned to Company A, 4th Forward Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Division (Mech), Fort Hood, Texas. Banuelos was killed when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in Kirkuk.
Juan was born in Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico and moved to Ogden with his family a year later. He attended Ogden High School before moving to Emporia, Kansas with his mother during his junior year after his parents divorced.
He was a popular student who dreamed of enlisting in the Army after graduation. He graduated from high school in Emporia and soon after joined the Army to improve his life and himself.
Juan always encouraged his family to do more in their lives and said if they really wanted to do something, if they put their head into it, they could do it because he did it. One thing he loved doing was to tinker, especially on his 1963 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport. That love of cars helped make him a light truck mechanic in the military.
During a visit with his family last fall, he talked about his pride in serving his country. He told them, “Don’t worry, I’ll be OK. You guys always have to remember that I’m doing something I wanted to do. I’m serving my country, and I’m proud of it.” He had been in Iraq since April 4 and there were important things coming in Juan’s life. He was due to return home in about a month and he was also set to become a U.S. citizen in April.
Instead, he will be posthumously awarded a Bronze Star, a second Purple Heart and a promotion to sergeant at his burial ceremony. He leaves behind a wife, Anita, and two young sons, ages 7 and 18 months old.
Juan was a fun loving, outgoing man. He was a very happy person – always smiling, making funny faces, sticking out his tongue and doing something to make everyone laugh. Where he was, everybody was happy.