Inverness soldier killed in Iraq - By LAURA NORTON
Jake Robert Velloza, an Army soldier from Inverness, asked his friends last Monday for their home addresses so he could send out wedding announcements.
“If you want a wedding announcement, either send me or Danielle your information in a message. Thanks,” the 22-year-old infantry man wrote on his Facebook page.
Five days later, he was dead. Velloza was killed Saturday in Mosul, Iraq, relatives said.
The soldier’s parents, Bob and Susan Velloza, received notification of their son’s death early Sunday from an Army major from Travis Air Force Base who came to their Inverness home, said the grandfather, Richard Velloza.
A Tomales High School football and baseball star, Velloza was popular on and off the sports field, Tomales High football coach Leon Feliciano said.
“I’ll always remember on a bridge near Nicasio, there was a sign ‘Welcome Home Jake’ after his first tour in Iraq. Then he re-upped,” Tucker said.
Velloza wrote about the Army when he described himself on his Facebook page: “I’m currently in Iraq for my 2nd tour; I’ll be home sometime in Dec. I have the most amazing fiancee anyone could ask for. She gets me through my days and I can’t wait to come home to her,” Velloza said.
Friend Jeffrey Hickey said preparing for marriage had transformed Velloza, a guy’s guy who raided the fridge, played video games and loved being outdoors.
“He shared with me his hope and desire to one day fall in love. I realized this hope was at the very core of what made Jake so sweet and fun,” Hickey wrote in a letter to the local press Monday.
Of Velloza’s fiancee, who he named on Facebook as Danielle Erwin of Evansville, Ind., “it was obvious that Jake had found what he was looking for,” Hickey said. “It was also obvious how much he wanted to get home and be with her.”
An ABC News report showed the following image as the reporter described the “All American house with a Blue Star in the window”
The Press Democrat reported on the funeral: http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article/20090513/ARTICLES/905139909#
A military honor guard lifts the casket as the body of Jake Robert Velloza, a 22-year-old Army infantryman from Inverness arrives at Parent-Sorenson Mortuary in Petaluma. Velloza was killed May 2 on Mosul, Iraq.
KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat -http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article/20090513/COMMUNITY/905139900
Marin soldier's remains escorted to Petaluma
“His mother and father, Bob and Susan Velloza, and his fiancee, Danielle Erwin of Evansville, Ind., held one another and cried outside Parent-Sorensen Mortuary as an Army color guard lifted the flag-draped coffin from a hearse to the strains of bagpipe music and carried it away.”
I read the news reports online and read the comments & sentiments posted by other readers. I was going to leave a message to Jakes fiance, his folks & his grandparents. As a total stranger, I searched for words that would have meaning and offer comfort to all of them. But they never came. There are no words that I could offer that would make the pain less.
On this Memorial Day, please take just a minute to honor Jake during the playing of Taps by clicking here:
Click here to listen to a sound file of Taps performed by SGM Woody English, U.S. Army Band, playing on a B flat Bach Stradivarius Field Trumpet (bugle)
Rest in Peace