Community Remembers Fallen Soldier

Sunday, April 15th 2007, 7:37 pm
By: News On 6

FORT SILL, Okla. (AP) -- An Army corporal from Lawton who died in Iraq had known since childhood that he wanted to be a soldier, the chaplain who conducted his funeral service said Sunday. The service for Wilfred Flores Jr. was held at Fort Sill's Frontier Chapel. Burial is planned for Monday at the Fort Sill National Cemetery.

Flores, 20, died March 31 in Baghdad from wounds he received when an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle in which he was riding. Flores was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Flores joined the Junior ROTC program at Eisenhower High School in Lawton, where his parents, Vicky and Wilfred Flores, settled after both retired from the military.

Lt. Col. Neal Buckon, the Fort Sill chaplain who conducted Sunday's service, called the Flores family "a great American family, a great military family."

Buckon said the family appreciates the gestures of support it has received from the Lawton community since Flores' death.

Those gestures of support were in evidence Sunday. As the hearse carrying Flores' coffin traveled to Fort Sill, cars pulled to the side of the road and some people saluted.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that turns out at funerals of troops killed in Iraq, accompanied the hearse. Dozens of American flags flapped in the breeze around the chapel.

During the service, Fort Sill's commander, Maj. Gen. David Ralston, presented Flores' parents with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star that had been awarded to their son. Also, the parents were presented with an Oklahoma flag that had flown over the state Capitol by former Cameron University President Don Davis, who was representing Gov. Brad Henry.

Among those in attendance were U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, in whose district Fort Sill is located, Lawton Mayor John Purcell, Cameron University President Cindy Ross and at least four state legislators.