LATHROP, CA, USA U.S. Army 1LT, A COMPANY, 223RD MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BATTALION, SACRAMENTO, CA 95832 WASHINGTON 03/20/2004
When 1st Lieutenant Michael Vega joined the California National Guard three years ago, he was following in the footsteps of his father and brothers, who had all served in the military.
He was a soldier at heart,” said Vega’s girlfriend, Marisol Vazquez.
The 41-year-old from Lathrop, Calif., died on March 20 after being wounded when his military vehicle rolled on top of him during fighting with Iraqi insurgents nine days earlier in Diwaniyah, Iraq. He was based in Sacramento, Calif.
Vega, a high school football star, was “an upbeat person, outgoing, really happy. He could make anybody laugh,” Vazquez said.
Vega enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school. He served as a helicopter mechanic for three years, going on to earn a degree in aeronautics at Cal State Hayward several years later.
“He believed in defending the country and was willing to do anything for it,” said his girlfriend, Marisol Vazquez, who lived with Vega in Lathrop, Calif. “He knew this is what he wanted to do, because he was a soldier at heart.”
Vega is survived by his father, Raphael; his mother, Maria Nothnagel; his stepfather, John Nothnagel; four brothers; three sisters; and nieces and nephews from California, Colorado, Florida, New York and Guam.