Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fallen Soldier Returns Home

Fallen soldier Richard Naputi returns home
by Sonya Artero, KUAM News
Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Army Specialist Richard Junior Degracia Naputi marks the fourth son of Micronesia to die by being killed in action while serving his country during the war in Iraq. Along with the Naputi family, about 200 mourners that included friends, members of the community and government officials were present during last night's solemn ceremony held at the old Guam International Airport Terminal.

The 24-year-old Naputi was welcomed back home to be laid to rest. In ceremonial honor, members of the Army carried the native son's flag-draped casket to the center of attention. The fallen soldier's wife Brianne Naputi, and his mother Elena Naputi laid their heads on the casket and began crying in anguish.

"Thank you so much for being here tonight. Your presence will help ease their pain and suffering. On behalf of the entire Naputi family, Si Yu'os Ma'ase and todos hamyu," said William Naputi Reyes, a family spokesman. Governor Felix Camacho announced, "Richard was a jolly boy. He was always happy. He was always the one in a conversation making jokes. He grew up to become a very dedicated and loyal man who put his heart and soul into everything he put his mind to. This included taking care of his family and of course, his wife."

Richard Naputi was one of two soldiers killed by a homemade explosive in Tali, Iraq, just five days before Christmas. The other soldier was Lieutenant Michael J. Cleary of Pennsylvania. The two men died after a bomb detonated near the Humvee they were driving during. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th infantry Regiment, 3rd brigade, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Benning, Georgia.

In the final three months of 2005, three lives from Micronesia were lost in the war. The two other soldiers were from Derence Jack, 31, and Wilgene Lieto, 28, were killed in another roadside bombing in Iraq. Both were from Saipan. Earlier last year, Army Staff Sergeant Steven Bayow of Yap died in Iraq. Bayow, 42, was killed with two others when a bomb hit their vehicle in February.

To date, the U.S. military death toll in the war in the Middle East stands at 2,179. On January 9, mourners can pay their last respects at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Pope (the late Naputi's in-laws), located in Talofofo. Naputi's funeral mass will take place Tuesday, January 10 at 11am at the Talofofo Church followed by his burial ceremony at the Veterans Cemetery.