Tonight, we gather to remember the life and honor the service of a soldier who gave the last full measure of devotion in service to our country:
Army Staff Sgt. Israel P. Nuañes, of Las Cruces, New Mexico
His mission is ended and he has earned his rest.
Please go below the fold and take a moment to pay tribute to him and participate in our virtual memorial service.
The IGTNT team asks you to bear in mind that these diaries are read by friends and family of the service member chronicled here. May all of our remembrances be full of compassion rather than politics.
Israel Nuañes, known to many as "Iz", was born in Silver City, Arizona. His motto was "Live Well, Love Much and Laugh Often" and he definitely lived as a man who loved life and laughter. Nuañes was best known for his infectious smile, his unusual sense of humor, and his sweet tooth. He enjoyed many different kinds of physical exercise and outdoor adventures, such as hiking, kayaking, kite boarding, mountain biking, and camping. He also spent many hours working on his motorcycle to perfect it for long leisure rides. And whatever he did, music was always a big part of it.
Israel's passion for life was matched by his passion for the military, which Rosina described as his "first love". He enlisted in 1992 right after graduation from Casa Grande Union High School, and served as a heavy-truck mechanic stationed at Fort Hood. He left active duty briefly to earn an associate degree in computer network technology, after which he joined the Army National Guard and deployed to Iraq in 2004.
Shortly after he returned from Iraq, while working as a school administrator, he met Rosina Rodriguez, who was also working for the Hatch Public Schools. The couple immediately hit it off. After Nuañes joined the infantry and completed airborne training at Fort Benning, he and Rosina married. Instead of traditional wedding rings, the couple got finger tattoos.
Nuañes took his wife to Fort Bragg, N.C., with the hope of trying out for special forces. Unfortunately, he was not accepted. and he was "devastated." But he was so highly motivated that he completed extensive and challenging training to obtain certification as an EOD Technician. He was then stationed at Fort Drum, New York, where he deployed to Iraq in October 2009. During this deployment, he received many awards and recognition along with a promotion to Staff Sergeant and Team Leader certification.
He recently re-enlisted for an additional 6 years, and was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. He was glad to be in Fort Bliss to be nearer his children from a previous marriage, to whom he was an understanding and compassionate father. It was from Fort Bliss that Israel deployed to Afghanistan. Rosina Nuañes Rodriguez had divorced Israel Nuañes but had recently reunited with him. Before leaving for his final deployment in March 2012, Nuañes told her and his children: "I love you all. I'll see you in December. I'll see you soon."
Israel's awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with 3 Oakleaf Clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal 4th, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, Non-Commisioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon 2, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon 2nd, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Basic Badge, Basic Parachutist Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge, Rifle/Expert Badge.
Israel and Rosina spoke for more than two hours via Skype on Friday, May 11. They laughed and joked as they chatted, and Rosina teased him about his "combat mustache." But just before the call ended, Israel surprised Rosina with an emotional declaration: "Just know, if I die tomorrow, I die a happy man because I had you to love, and I had you to love me. Good night, my everything."
Then tomorrow came.
On Saturday, May 12, Israel Nuanes lost his life in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained during an enemy attack with an improvised explosive device. He was 38 years old.
He is survived by his widow Rosina, his son Israel and daughter Laurissa, along with his grandmother, aunt and cousins. In addition, he is survived by many relatives of the heart, including the Lujan family, and many dear friends whom he called brothers and sisters.
Rosina's finger still bears the tattoo of a red heart with a small keyhole in it. Israel's ring finger was tattooed with a corresponding key.
I Got the News Today is a diary series intended to honor, respect and remember. Its title is a reminder that almost every day a military family gets the terrible news about a casualty of war.
Each of these lives is precious. They all have loved ones, families and friends. Please rec and comment in these diaries to pay your respects.
Click the IGTNT tag to see other entries in the series, which was begun by i dunno, and is maintained by Sandy on Signal, noweasels, monkeybiz, blue jersey mom, Chacounne, twilight falling, joyful, SisTwo, SpamNunn, JaxDem, CalNM, Wide Awake in KY, maggiejean, racheltracks, kestrel9000, TheFatLadySings, Ekaterina, and me, TrueBlueMajority.
If you're willing to write a diary for this series, even once every other month, please leave a message in this diary and/or send kosmail to Sandy on Signal.
PLEASE note that these comments may be read by friends and family who are overcome with raw grief. It is our custom here to leave politics aside as we offer our remembrance tributes with respect and compassion.