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Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour,
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

Tonight, we say good-bye to a soldier who was known for his zest for life, his sense of humor and a smile that could brighten an entire room. His passing leaves behind family and friends with broken hearts and cherished memories of a man they will never forget. Please join me over the fold to remember a true American patriot ...  

Victor Manuel Cota: "He was always smiling...."

Victor Cota


DoD Identifies Army Casualty

           The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
           Staff Sgt. Victor M. Cota, 33, of Tucson, Ariz., died May 14 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device in Kadamiyah, Iraq, May 13. He was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

     Just a few days ago, Victor Cota, an armor crewman assigned to Fort Hood’s Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, was in Kadamiyah, Iraq, northwest of Baghdad, riding in an M1 Abrams main battle tank. With his 34th birthday only days away – on May 23 – and his third deployment to Iraq ending in a few months, Victor had so much to look forward to. But he had not been able to shake the feeling that things were not going well in Iraq. Long-time friend Gilbert Moreno had spoken with Victor only weeks ago.  


"He said that it was getting kind of bad over there and he was a little scared," Moreno recalled.



    At some point on Tuesday, Cota’s vehicle had a fatal encounter with an IED, putting to an end to his dreams of returning home to his family. Now his beloved wife, Liliana, and two school-age children are coming to terms with the devastating news that he is gone. Gilbert Moreno spoke to Liliana the day after Victor’s death:  


"She was very choked up and could hardly talk. She still can’t believe it just like we can’t."
    Cota "really loved her. They seemed very happy," Moreno’s wife Cassandra Moreno, 25, said of the soldier’s marriage.


    Cota’s friends remember a man devoted to both his family and the military, a man who could go to war and yet come home with his sense of humor in tact.


"He was known for his laugh. That’s how I’ll remember him: always telling jokes," said Moreno, a long-time friend of Tucson’s latest war casualty.

    Added Yvonne Ybarra, a friend who spent time with Victor when he was home on leave at Thanksgiving last year:


"He was in a good mood, cracking jokes," said Ybarra. "Every time I saw him, he was always smiling."


    Victor was born in Florence, Arizona, in 1975. His family later moved to Tucson, where he attended Amphitheater High School. In 1993, he enlisted in the Army.  High school friend David Camacho said Victor went into the military because he felt it was his calling.


"He was proud to be in the Army," Camacho said. "He loved being a military man."



    According to his friends, Victor was so proud of his military career that in 2000 he re-enlisted for a second tour of duty.


"He didn’t have to go back but he did, and he did because he believed in the cause," says Cota’s friend, Octavio Parra. "I feel sad because I never had a chance to tell him how I felt about him. I cannot describe what I’m feeling right now. I lost a friend. I lost a brother."


    In 2003, Victor was one of the 4th Infantry Division’s 600 soldiers who took part in Operation Red Dawn, capturing Hussein near Tikrit, Iraq, an achievement he took great pride in, says his friend Aaron Valencia.


"I remember seeing him on CNN when Saddam Hussein was captured. He was one of the few there at the compound when he was arrested and apprehended. He was proud. He bragged about how his platoon was there," Valencia says. "He didn't want the pat on his back. He didn't want the medals on his chest. He was doing his duty," Valencia says.
    He wants people to remember Cota's big smile: the smile of the soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice. "He gave his life for us to sleep in the blanket of freedom: the blanket we cover ourselves in every night because of people like him.
    "You can't get people like him back. I have been blessed to have a friend like him my whole life."


    Victor’s medals and commendations include the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal. He is survived by his mother, Irene Cota, and brother, Gilbert Cota, both of Tucson, his widow, Liliana, and two school-age children, a son and a daughter, from a previous marriage.

    Victor's ex-wife's family has issued a statement requesting assistance with a scrapbook they would like to put together to help his children remember him:


"We are saddened and disheartened over the loss of Victor Manuel Cota and what this loss will mean to his 8-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. He was a brave soldier and fought bravely for our country. We are all very proud of him. He left behind two beautiful children, from a previous marriage, who will always love him. His children are doing well and are surrounded with family. We are all helping them to understand and cope with the passing of their father, our hearts and prayers go out to his wife, mother, and brother. Also thank you to all the soldiers who continue to serve our country courageously."

Courtesy: The Santana Family
    If you knew Army Sgt. Cota, please use the e-mail address  to share any memories or photographs you may have with family members, as they would like to put a scrap book together in his memory.  

    Rest in peace, Victor. You will never be forgotten.

    To date, 4078 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Iraq. Of these, 105 have been women. More than 30,000 men and women have been wounded. The Department of Defense Press Releases, from which the information at the start of this diary was drawn, can be seen here. The death toll among Iraqis is unknown, but is at least 100,000, and perhaps many times that number.    To date, 501 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Afghanistan.

     If you would like to assist our military and their families, please visit or Fisher House. If you have frequent flyer miles you would like to donate to hospitalized veterans or their families, please see Fisher House’s Hero Miles program. Operation Ensuring Christmas is another worthy cause that organizes theme park vacations for the children of our fallen troops. Finally, if you would like to assist the animal companions of our deployed military, information is available here.

    Sending a care package to a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan is easy. Read how in this great series by Ninepatch. Brighten the day of a soldier in 2008.

    And don’t forget them when they get home!  Read to learn what you can do.

    I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor, respect and remind. Click here to see the series, which was begun by i dunno, and is currently maintained by Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, noweasels, MsWings, greenies, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, labwitchy, joyful, roses, SisTwo, SpamNunn, a girl in MI, JeNoCo and me, moneysmith. These diaries are heartbreaking to write, but, we believe, an important service to those Americans who have died, and to our community’s respect for and remembrance of them.

    If you would like to volunteer, even once a month, please contact Sandy on Signal, monkeybiz, or noweasels.


As you read this diary, please remember that it is intended as a tribute to the fallen, not as a forum for political discussions. Whatever your feelings about the war and occupation, please let your comments demonstrate respect and compassion for these sacrifices. We also ask that comments be considerate of the feelings of families and friends, as well as the many members of our community who have served in the military, or who loved ones currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.


Originally posted to moneysmith on Fri May 16, 2008 at 04:45 PM PDT.

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