HIDALGO, TX, USA
SPC, COMPANY A, 2ND BATTALION, 12TH CAVALRY (1CD), FORT HOOD, TX 76544
AN NAJAF, IRAQ 08/15/2004
My name is Christy Zapata and I found out about these portraits through my father. He doesn’t have access to the internet so I’m trying to do this for him and well, all of my family. You see we lost my oldest brother Mark Anthony Zapata on August 15, 2004. He was in the Army and was in Iraq when his tank went under enemy fire. It would really mean a lot to my family if they had one of these beautiful portraits hanging on our wall.
We’re very proud of my brother; he was truly a warm hearted caring person. He was many things other than a soldier; he was a firefighter, teacher, EMT, and a volunteer to his community. He was a son, brother and a friend to many. We miss him very much and I know my family would really appreciate this.
Mark Zapata graduated from Edinburg North High School and had been in the military for seven years, said his brother, Michael Zapata.
He was the third soldier from this Mexican border city to be killed since the war began last year, and the ninth from the Rio Grande Valley.
Mark Zapata was with Fort Hood’s 1st Calvary Division and went to Iraq in January. He returned to Edinburg for three weeks last month before being sent back. He spent his time visiting friends and family in Texas and northern Mexico and attending the funeral of a relative who died while he was home.
Michael Zapata said his brother was proud of his mission but didn’t want to return.
“He said it was hell, the fighting. He couldn’t sleep. It was difficult,” Michael Zapata said. “His last day he just wanted to be here, he didn’t want to go. My brother died giving life to everybody.”
His last call to his mother was from Dallas, when he told her he’d be out in the field and out of phone or Internet contact for the next month.
Zapata was single, but loved children and was a volunteer firefighter and paramedic at home, said his cousin, 29-year-old Dennis Garcia.
Iraqi children had given the soldier coins and other trinkets to bring home for his mother, and in return he took Iraqi children candy from just over the border in Mexico.
Zapata’s tour was scheduled to end in October, after which he planned to join the military police and attend college.
A stream of relatives and friends gathered at the family home, which was adorned with ribbons and a sign reading “Our hearts are with our troops.” They said they had few other details on Zapata’s death, which they were informed of Sunday afternoon.