S. Ozone Park sergeant killed in Afghanistan – QNS.com

S. Ozone Park sergeant killed in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama salutes with U.S. Army soldiers as a carry team arrives with the casket containing the remains of Sgt. Dale R. Griffen of Indiana, who died in Afghanistan. South Ozone Park solider Staff Sgt. Luis Gonzalez (inset) was also killed while serving in Afghanistan. Sp Photo/Susan Walsh, Inset AP Photo/Department of Defense
By Ivan Pereira

Planswere underway this week to bury another member of the Queens military community who was killed while fighting in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Luis Gonzalez died Oct. 27 along with six other soldiers in the Arghandab Valley region of Afghanistan when the vehicle they were traveling in struck an I.E.D. explosive, the U.S. Department of Defense said.

Gonzalez, 27, who lived in South Ozone Park and was reportedly raised in Corona, was a 27-year-old Green Beret who earned many accolades during his service, including the Bronze Star, according to Borough President Helen Marshall.

“His death in the line of duty while leading his squad on a patrol in southern Afghanistan defines the word ‘hero’ and leaves us with a debt we can never repay,” she said in a statement.

Gonzalez’s mother, Bienvenida Gonzalez-Gomez, 60, told the New York Post her son would keep in contact with her constantly and always had a love for the Army.

“He would always send me flowers — roses, to be exact — even while he was in Afghanistan. He dedicated them to me all the time,” she told the paper.

In addition to his mother, the Green Beret left behind a wife and a 2-month-old son, according to the Post. Gonzalez, a John Bowne High School alumnus, had served two tours in Iraq before he started his tour in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama paid a special visit to Dover Air Force Base when the Army transported the remains of Gonzalez and his comrades back to the United States last Thursday.

“President Obama’s presence at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to honor Staff Sgt. Gonzalez and 17 other fallen American soldiers Thursday was a tribute that represented many,” Marshall said.

The soldier’s funeral mass will take place Friday morning at St. Leo’s Church in Corona. He is scheduled to be buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Astoria, according to funeral planners.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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