A soldier from Warner Robins was killed in Iraq last week, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Army Spc. Daniel Enrique Gomez, 21, died Wednesday with three other American soldiers when their vehicle was attacked in Adhamiyah, Iraq, the department said.
"Right now we're kind of at a loss for words," Gomez's sister, Marian Gomez said Sunday night. "But I think Daniel's life was like a lesson. All the things he's been through in such a short time ... what we learned from this one situation was that you're here one day, you're gone the next. We hate to say it, but we're another statistic."
Marian said her brother attended Warner Robins High School, where he played football and was active in the ROTC. He was a company commander there, she said.
"He was well loved," Marian said. "We had a vigil last night and tons of people showed up. More than we ever expected. He touched a lot of people's lives."
Gomez would have been in Iraq a year next month, said Marian, who is in the Coast Guard. He had been home recently, but returned to Iraq in early June, she said. He has a younger brother who is 13 and his father served in the Air Force, she said.
The other soldiers killed in the attack, according to the DOD, were: Sgt. 1st Class Luis E. Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, of Bakersfield, Calif., Spc. Zachary R. Clouser, 19, of Dover, Pa., and Spc. Richard Gilmore III, 22, of Jasper, Ala.
As of Sunday, at least 3,632 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,977 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
I talked below about feeling like a vulture some times. We found out about this late. So at nearly 10 o'clock on a Sunday I started calling every Gomez in the Warner Robins phone book and asking if they knew a soldier named Daniel.
At about the dozenth call, his sister answered the phone. Daniel Gomez deserved to have his name on the front page of The Macon Telegraph tomorrow, in the top story, with the biggest headline.
And he deserved to have someone who knew him speak. I'm grateful to Marian for doing so, and for sharing her brother, again.
Something she said struck me, but it didn't make the story. You know how you pass something in a store, maybe it's a card, or a small gift - something that reminds you of someone? Those things mean a lot, she said.
"Don't pass it by," she said.
This world will chew you up and spit you out. And, in the end, all we really have are the people that we care about.