Airman searching for those who helped honor fallen comrade on their July 4th journey home

The journey home from Iraq on the 4th of July, 10 years ago, remains special for CMSgt. (Ret.) Ruben Gonzalez of Lytle.  A decade later, Gonzalez is on a mission to find those who accompanied him on a special flight home and made sure a fallen soldier received the appropriate honors.

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“The 4th of July 2010 became one of my most remembered Independence Days ever. That was the day I boarded a C-17 out of Baghdad, Iraq and was heading home! As the flight left that evening, we were all excited to take off and start our journey home, but our work in Iraq turned out to be incomplete,” said CMSgt (Ret) Ruben Gonzalez.

The crew and passengers were notified that they would need to make one more stop before leaving the country. “We had lost a soldier north of Baghdad and had to transport her home, something we didn’t expect to be a part of our flight out of Iraq that day.”

“But that night something even more special was shown by those on the plane that I will always remember. Once we landed, we noticed that the deceased service member was only going to be carried aboard the plane. That just didn’t seem right for the fallen soldier. So, we, the passengers, came together and provided the appropriate honors.”

“For some reason at that location, something happened that arrangements were not provided.  We, the passengers and crew, were going to honor the fallen soldier on board.  We all came up with a plan, from appropriately bringing the soldier on board, to having a prayer to let her know that she was not alone in this journey home. It was an honor for all of us to be part of this and to escort her out of the country of Iraq.”

Gonzalez took down the names and service locations of those aboard the C-17 that day, but misplaced them in his gear and only recently rediscovered the information.

“I need to get the word out through as many different sources as I can and thank them for what they did for our fellow comrade in arms that night in 2010,” Gonzalez said. “As the 4th of July weekend approaches, I hope anyone who reads my story will look closely at the names below and help me recognize them for what they did that night.”

“Thank you from a grateful nation for your service, and personally, for the greatest 4th of July!”

(Highlighted are the locations where the service members were stationed back in 2010…please locate them and thank them for their service on this 4th of July!)  Col Kathryn Kolbe (National Defense University), Lt Col Haider Khan (Ft Hood), Major Anthony “Scott” Gunn (Air Force Academy), Major Bill Holl (AFROTC Det 645), Capt Chad Hess (MacDill AFB), Capt Casey Jackson (Ft Meade), SMSgt Robert Regan (Aviano AFB), MSgt Stephen Kline (Kirtland AFB), TSgt Jeffrey Scott (Pope AFB), TSgt Leslie VanBelkum (Andersen AFB), SSgt Zachary Gillespie (Shaw AFB), SSgt Nathan Halvorson (Elmendorf AFB), SSgt Simon Henry (Vilseck, Germany), SSgt Zachriah Viets (Mildenhall AFB), SrA David Johnson (McGuire AFB), SrA Samuel Walker (Lajes Air Field), A1C Nicholas Barker (Ramstein AFB).

CMSGT (Ret) Ruben Gonzalez resides in Lytle, Texas where he serves as Alderman on the Lytle City Council. He can be reached by Facebook messenger. You may send a message via his Facebook page:

By Kathleen Calame

The Devine News, Publisher