ELMHURST, NY, USA U.S. Army CPL, COMPANY A, 1ST BATTALION, 23D INFANTRY, 2 BCT, FORT LEWIS, WA BAGHDAD, IRAQ 11/14/2006
Justin Rivero Garcia did not have an easy life in the New York City Borough of Queens. At the age of 12, he lost his parents. His grandfather raised him in the Elmhurst section – one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in New York City.
Garcia graduated from St. Agnes Boy’s High School in Manhattan, where he played on the “Stags” soccer team. After graduation, Justin enrolled in St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkil, NY. He played soccer for the “Spartans” while earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Moved by the Sept. 11 attacks, Garcia joined the military after graduation. On 1 July 2005, Justin married Michelle Narcisco in the Church of St. Paul in Congers, NY. Less than a year later, he deployed to Iraq with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The unit embarked for a yearlong deployment. So, Justin and Michelle were destined to spend their first anniversary apart.
While in Iraq, Justin Garcia always found a way to phone or write to remain in touch. He was ecstatic on Father’s Day when he learned his wife, Michelle, was expecting their first child. Remembering his own upbringing, Justin intended to ensure that his child would grow up with his father to guide him.
Army Specialist Justin Rivero Garcia was riding in a Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad on Tuesday, 4 November 2006. Insurgents detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) alongside his vehicle. Garcia and an Army officer both perished in the explosion. Justin would not live to return home to guide his unborn son.
“I actually last spoke with him on Monday,” Michelle Garcia said. “He was excited about coming home in February (on leave) and couldn’t wait to see me and his family and meet his son.” “He had a rough life” and was determined that his own children would have a different life, she said.
Michelle Garcia said her husband “was so proud of what he was doing. The people from Fort Lewis should know that he loved everybody he worked with and talked about them all the time.”
Family and friends reflected that love and pride. Many crowded St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Congers for the funeral. Ironically, this was the very same church where Justin and Michelle shared their vows a mere 16 months previously. “I want people to remember all the happy times with him and to be proud of what he did.” Justin rests in Gethsemane Cemetery in Rockland Lake, NY.