The Defense Department on Tuesday identified a Baumholder, Germany-based soldier killed by a roadside bomb on Sunday in Baghdad’s Sadr City.
Spc. Tony J. Gonzales was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team’s 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment. He was 20.
Gonzales is the son of Tony and Marlynn Gonzales of Newman, Calif. Family members who spoke with the Modesto Bee newspaper spoke of Gonzales’ patriotism.
"T.J. was always very patriotic and proud of his country. He knew he was going to go to Iraq, but that was OK," his sister Tammy Runzel was quoted as saying. "He was not there regretting it. He knew he was going there from the start, and it was part of his job."
Gonzales enlisted in the Army in 2006 after graduating from Freedom High School in Turlock, Calif., according to the news report. He planned to follow in his father’s footsteps, first into the military and then into a law enforcement career.
Patriotism and duty were among the traits instilled in Gonzales, his father said.
"If you live here, it is your duty to serve your country," his father said. "That is why I went in, and is what my thoughts always were."
He deployed to Iraq on April 6, his 20th birthday. Gonzales had trained as a tank driver, his family said, but spent most of his time in Iraq on foot patrol.
The City of Newman will fly its flags at half-staff in honor of Gonzales until after his funeral services, said Mayor Ed Katen, a friend of the family. Flags at the state Capitol in Sacramento will also be flown at half-staff in his honor, according to news reports.
Memorial services in the Baumholder military community have not yet been announced.