Our Boy in Iraq..
On Saturday(11-22-03) morning,
Army Spc. Rel A. Ravago IV was online from Iraq with his mother, Maryann, in
Glendale , wishing her a happy birthday and telling her that he had met a
Filipina who worked in the Army mess hall.
"He was asking his mom to teach him something in Tagalog so he could impress the girl," said his namesake uncle, Rel Allen Ravago, who, like many in his family, was born in the Philippines. "We were all teasing and laughing about it Saturday night."
Ravago was excited about a new
job as a driver in the 101st Airborne Division, and he told his family he was
having fun in Iraq.
He said he was fine, he just wanted to find out how the family was doing. He was excited, because he had just become a driver. That was a big deal. He's an adventurous young man."
Sunday (11-23-03), Ravago was performing that new task, driving Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry L. Wilson, 45, between two American bases.
I watched Sunday news about two US casualties that reminded us about Mogadishu scene," the dragging of dead U.S. servicemen through the Somali capital's streets in 1993 after a gun battle with warlords. I felt eerie feeling as the early report indicated a gruesome and violent death. The body being drug into the street for the world to see. The Ravago family was watching too.
MOSUL, Iraq — U.S. officials on Monday rejected Iraqi accounts of the grisly deaths of two U.S. soldiers over the weekend, an attack that raised fears of a new level of anti-American violence.
.. Sunday evening, the family
received news of Rel Ravago's death. Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry L. Wilson, 45, of
Thomson, Ga., was also killed.
A knowledgeable American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the troops died of gunshots in a surprise ambush, which took place on a congested street in the middle of the day Sunday. He added that their throats were not cut nor were they otherwise mutilated, as some reports had suggest
Monday (11-24-03), dozens
of family members and friends gathered at the Ravago household on Fairfield
Street to mourn the 21-year-old soldier, one of two killed Sunday as they drove
in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
Ravago was born at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles, grew up in Glendale and attended Hoover High School.’
At 5-foot-2, Ravago was able to pull off flips and other gymnastic stunts that made him a popular student.
"He was the shortest of them all, but he was the big brother. He had a huge personality and a huge heart," said Kathy Angers, a Hoover High teacher whose daughter was one of Ravago's closest friends. "He was effervescent, very lively."
The woman Ravago called "Mama Angers" slowly flipped through her daughter's photo album Monday, showing pictures of the smiling young man on prom night, during a phase when he dyed his hair orange, and doing flips while celebrating his birthday at Tony Roma's restaurant.
"He was at the house all the time with the kids doing what teenagers do," Angers said. "He loved to dance, to sing and do martial arts."
Ravago was artistically inclined, so his family was shocked when he announced he planned to enlist in the Army after high school.
"We didn't expect him to," said Ravago's grandfather, Rel Ravago. "But it was his final decision to join the Army because he wanted to serve his country."
The family's patriarch moved to Glendale from the Philippines in 1970, and instilled in his children and grandchildren a sense of patriotism for their adopted country. A large American flag surrounded by miniature lights is displayed from the window of his apartment -- one he put up after Sept. 11, 2001, and does not intend to remove.
As a child, he showed talent as
"When he was 7, he was already painting really nice watercolors," his uncle said. "We were so proud, we would frame them."
Ravago continued to paint in high school and planned to continue to study art afterward. But at 18, he enlisted.
"His father, my brother, was going to send him to art school, but then, all of a sudden, Rel enlisted in the Army," the uncle said. "He just wanted to serve his country."
"We were in shock," Ravago's uncle said. "His mom is not doing well. And my brother, I don't know, maybe he's just hiding it from me. He's trying to be strong."
Sources from various news are used for this report..