REDLANDS, CA, US
U. S. Army
SGT, CO C, 173RD BDE SPT BN, 173RD AB BDE COMBAT TEAM, BAMBERG, GERMANY
08/31/2010, FOB SHANK (C-MED), AFGHANISTAN
Sergeant Raymond Chavez Alcaraz Jr . was among four troops killed Aug. 31 when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle in central Afghanistan’s Logar province, south of Kabul. All were assigned to the 173rd Brigade Support Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Bamberg, Germany. SGT Alcaraz was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
After SGT Alcaraz completed Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, and Airborne School, he was assigned to Charlie Company 173rd BSB. He joined the unit during Operation Enduring Freedom VIII and was attached to Able Company 1-503rd P.I.R. serving as a Platoon Medic. SGT Alcaraz again deployed to Afghanistan with Charlie Company 173rd BSB in November 2009 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom X.
While deployed to Logar Province, Afghanistan, he was attached to 1st Platoon (Assassins) of Alpha Company 173rd Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne) as a Platoon Medic where he completed over 49 missions as a Health Care Sergeant in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He enlisted in the US Army on 12 July 2007 at age 17. “There was no way you could stop him,” said his father, Raymond Alcaraz Sr. of Fontana, California. Alcaraz had been due to return home on leave in October 2010. Family notes that Raymond showed a strong independent streak as a young boy, waving off his parents when they tried to accompany him to class. “No, Mom, I can walk to school myself,” he told his mother, Alma Murphy of Redlands, in the second grade. “He always wanted to see if he could do something on his own first,” she said.
His first love was baseball, and he dreamed of being a professional baseball player. He made the all-stars while playing Little League, but by the time he reached high school, he realized that he needed to think of alternatives. “He was always smaller for his age,” said his stepfather, Paul Murphy. He thought about becoming a firefighter and often visited stations and made appointments to accompany firefighters on calls. He once was walking to a station for a ride-along when the engine began to pull out for a call.
“He came running across the street and jumped on the call. He just didn’t want to miss anything,” said James Winter, a fire engineer for the city of Redlands. He was especially interested in becoming a medic. During high school, he and several friends passed a car accident on the freeway and Alcaraz insisted that they stop to see if they could help. “He had a heart that wanted to help others,” his mother said. His older brother, Lucas, joined the Army in 1996 and Alcaraz decided to follow suit. “He always looked up to his older brother,” his mother said.
Sergeant Alcaraz is survived by his brother, Lucas and parents, Raymond and Alma, who reside in California.