Body of missing Corona soldier Alex Jimenez found
BY PETE DAVIS
They were probably the worst words a mother can hear.
On Thursday, July 10, Maria del Rosario Duran got the news she has been dreading for more than 13 months as military officials told her that they had found the remains of her oldest son, Sergeant Alex Jimenez, in Iraq.
Jimenez, who was 25 when he went missing on May 12, 2007, had been listed as missing in action or captured until this week.
“It’s so sad,” a sobbing Duran told The Courier by cell phone late Thursday night from her Corona home where she said she was surrounded by many family members and friends.
Duran said she found out the news around 3 p.m. that day, but few details were available about how the body was discovered. Duran met with military officials on Friday to find out more information, and addressed reporters with City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate.
“We expected the chances of him being found [alive] were remote, but we were holding out hope,” said Monserrate, who spent much of Thursday night comforting Duran and her sisters.
During the press briefing outside of her home, Duran along with Alex’s two brothers Andy, 20, and Bryant, 16, spoke about Jimenez as a person who always loved the military and died fighting for the country that he loved.
“I want for everybody to remember him that he was wonderful and he loved everybody,” Duran said.
In addition, Roselle Calero, mother of Queens Village Major Jeffrey Calero, and Martha Clark, mother of Jackson Heights Specialist Jonathan Rivadeneira, who both died last year while serving in the military, came to Duran’s home to lend their support.
“Of course it will help Maria,” Monserrate said. “These mothers [Calero and Clark] have gone through this.”
Meanwhile, more than 200 miles north of Queens, Alex’s father Andy Jimenez is also dealing with the devastating news.
“It’s not easy,” Alex’s father told The Courier from his home in Lawrence, MA, saying he found out the tragic news from one of Alex’s cousins on Thursday afternoon.
Jimenez was assigned to the D (Delta) Company, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, NY, and four of his fellow soldiers died during a May 12, 2007 attack.
Since Jimenez went missing, Duran has been gathering with her family and friends inside her home in order to pray for her son and the other soldiers. Many of their family members, including Andy Jimenez, took part in a mass in Duran’s house on May 12, 2008 – one year after Jimenez went missing.
Just last month, Duran traveled to Washington D.C. for Memorial Day weekend with her youngest son Bryant, 16, Alex’s father Andy Jimenez and Jim Wareing, Founder of New England Caring for our Military (NECFOM), and the family had a private meeting with President George W. Bush.
“I said, ‘Mr. President, the only thing that we ask is do not stop searching for them,’ ” Duran said shortly after the meeting.
In August of 2007, Duran helped launch the Council of Families and Friends of Active, Deceased and Missing Soldiers of American Wars – a support group that began with Duran and two other Queens mothers whose sons died fighting in the U.S. military overseas.
Check back at queenscourier.com throughout the day for updates, interviews with family and friends and reactions from the community.
To read The Courier’s comprehensive coverage of Alex Jimenez throughout the past year, click on the links below:
Article #1: A mother’s strength
Article #2: A MOTHER’S AGONY: Son missing for a year in Iraq
Article #3: Prayers And Hope
Mark one-year anniversary of missing soldier
Article #4: Corona mom meets with President Bush