ALBANY, NY, US
PFC, CO B, 1ST BN, 506TH INF, 4 BCT, FORT CAMPBELL, KY
07/10/2011, FOBORGUN-E HOSPITAL, AFGHANISTAN
Besides his passion for serving in the Army, Specialist Nieves was an avid Harry Potter fan and enjoyed reading and video games, he was respectful, friendly, and always had a great big smile and cherished true friendship deeply.
Specialist Nieves was a soldier, a son, a brother, a father, and a husband. Those who loved Rafael A. Nieves Jr. and knew him best said they’ll remember the 22-year-old father of two as a gracious, charming big brother. “His smile,” said Ashleymarie Santiago, one of Nieves’ two younger sisters. “That’s what I’ll always remember. He had the biggest smile.”
Specialist Nieves was raised in New Jersey with his mother until he was 14, at which time he moved to Guilderland, NY.
“Everyone looked up to him. He was always a respectable guy, always willing to help a friend.” Friends said he went through tough times but was focused on enlisting in the military upon graduation. He was a dedicated member of the Guilderland High School ROTC program.
Growing up SPC Nieves loved reading war stories. The birth of his daughter was what really convinced Rafael Nieves to join the Army. “Joining the military was a passion of his since he was a kid,” explained his father, Rafael A. Nieves Sr.. “He was finally able to get his wish. He loved his country, he wanted to defend his country. He wanted to better himself, his country and his family.”
“Honestly, I think he was the bravest man I know,” his brother, Matthew Nieves said.”… what matters most to me — is that he went out a hero doing what he did just to make sure that his squad can get back to their families,” added Matthew.
July 20, 2011 Legacy.com entry from SPC Nieves’ mother
My son, words could never express how proud I am of you and how much I love you or how much you will be missed. Know I will always be here for your family and love them to the day I meet with you again. Baby boy I have so many things to say to you but most important is “YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN, I LOVE YOU RAFY..LOVE MOM Tina Roman, Bayonne,NJ