Fallen soldiers mourned: Injured Guardsman now in stable condition
By William B. Martin Jr.
Pacific Sunday News • July 13, 2008
Friends and family are mourning the loss of two Guam Guardsmen killed serving our country.
Sgt. Brian S. Leon Guerrero, 34, a father of three from Tamuning; and Spc. Samson A. Mora, 28, a car-show enthusiast from Dededo who was engaged to be married, died of injuries sustained when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan Thursday.
The explosion also seriously injured another Guam Guardsman, Spc. Kalani Echang, 25, from Mangilao.
Leon Guerrero's wife, Emely, said her husband was a fine man.
"He was a great soldier, a great father and a great husband," she said. "I'm very proud of him and his children are very proud."
Emely Leon Guerrero also said she sends her love and prayers to the Mora and Echang families.
Brian Leon Guerrero's mother, Rose Pangelinan, said her son told her after his first deployment that he would never come back the same. "That was his third deployment," she said. "It's breaking my heart so much."
Agnes Mora said Samson Mora, her brother-in-law, would be missed.
"He was a good guy," she said, unable to hold back her emotions. "We love him very much and we miss him."
Samson Mora's father, Abraham Mora, said he hasn't had the chance to fully process his son's untimely death.
Sheila Indalecio of Mangilao -- who's son Jaeden is godson to Samson Mora -- said that upon Samson Mora's return, he was set to marry her friend, Rosanna Castro of Ordot, who she said is currently off island with family.
"(Rosanna) was his high-school sweetheart, so you're talking about a very long relationship," she said. "She was anticipating his return so they could get married."
The deaths of the two Guardsmen bring the number of sons of Micronesia killed since the War on Terror began in 2001 to 28. More than 4,100 U.S. servicemen have been killed since the start of the war.
Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo said she, like the rest of Guam, is mourning the deaths of two of the island's sons.
"I join the people of Guam in mourning the deaths of Sgt. Brian Leon Guerrero and Spc. Samson Mora," Bordallo said. "We also pray for Spc. Kalani Echang, who was seriously injured in the same incident in Afghanistan."
On Friday, Gov. Felix Camacho and acting Gov. Mike Cruz said the two fallen soldiers "are heroes of our nation whose memory will live on in the hearts and minds of a grateful people."
Bordallo spoke with the families of both Brian Leon Guerrero and Samson Mora to offer her condolences, according to a news release from her office. She also spoke to Echang's family. "Our island mourns the loss of life and we honor their service to our nation. Their ultimate sacrifice for our freedom is a debt that we can never fully repay," Bordallo said. "We will remember them as heroes and we will do whatever we can to help ease the burden on their families."
Mora was featured in a 2004 Pacific Daily News "Cruising" article, having transformed his 1997 Toyota Tacoma into a car-show winner.
Samson Mora's cousin, Charlita Harper, wanted the people of Guam to know that Samson Mora was also a member of the Honor Guard, those responsible for giving fallen soldiers a proper military burial.
"That was very prestigious to him," she said.
Pangelinan said she will pray for all the sons of both Guam and the nation who remain in areas where conflict is taking place.
"I hope and pray that all the soldiers come back safe," she said. "I know Brian belongs to God. Right now he is safer than we are. I love him so much."
The three soldiers left for Afghanistan in January as members of the Guam Army National Guard 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1/294th Infantry Battalion. About 180 soldiers from Alpha Company of the Guam Army National Guard are serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
According to a release from the Guam National Guard, Echang was in stable condition and responsive at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, after suffering injuries to his lower body.
The wounded soldier called his wife, Helory Echang, yesterday morning. He awaits transport to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the release stated.
The families of Brian Leon Guerrero and Samson Mora have been assigned casualty assistance officers, said Maj. Gen. Donald Goldhorn, adjutant general for the Guam National Guard. He and other Guard officials yesterday visited the families.