San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Officer killed in Iraq will never know son
By Sara A. Carter
Friday, June 17, 2005 - Four weeks ago, Rosanna Baez sent her husband, Petty Officer 2nd Class Cesar Baez, the surprise of his life.
Baez, 37, a Navy hospital corpsman in Iraq, had received a care package in the hot desert with a message glued to the top: a blue baby bootie.
The father of three young girls was going to have a fourth child in September, "a baby boy,' said his father Cesar Baez. "He really wanted a baby boy.'
"He called everybody in the family,' said Bernardina Baez, his mother. "He was so happy.'
But the young hospital corpsman would never know the son he always wanted. The 14-year military veteran was one of several men killed while conducting combat operations in the al- Anbar province on Wednesday.
"He was a real patriot,' his father said. "But the pain I'm feeling right now is indescribable. He loved, served his country ... died for his country but I wish I had him back.'
A corpsman with a Marine patrol, Baez was killed by small- arms fire, said Navy spokeswoman on Friday. He had served 10 years in the Navy after serving four years in the Marine Corps.
He attended Garey High and later received his diploma after classes at Pomona Adult School. His mother said he had hoped to become a doctor.
He married his wife Rosanna when they both were in training at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital. His wife lives at Camp Pendleton with their daughters, Isabel, 8, Sydney, 5, and Suzy, 4.
Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, said she was saddened by the news and would visit the family after she returns from Washington, D.C., this weekend.
Napolitano, who visited the wounded at Bethesda Naval Hospital last week, spoke of her admiration for the military men and women who have sacrificed their lives, limbs and comfort for the country, she said.
But stories like Baez's are especially tragic, she added.
"Our heart goes out to the family, to his wife,' Napolitano said. "It's hard to put into words how you feel, the concern you have for the loss of a loved one, especially for the parents. We are so proud of the children who have gone off to war, but sometimes you wish you could bring them all back home.'
On Wednesday, after the Navy chaplain left, Cesar Baez tore down the large yellow ribbon he had tied to the oak tree in his front yard.
He got in his car and rushed to his wife's work to tell her the news.
"I couldn't stop myself,' he said. "I screamed the whole time. I drove my car screaming and crying. It didn't matter to me what anyone thought. The pain of losing my son is unexplainable.'
On Friday, the yellow ribbon was still where it had fallen.
"My son will live on through his son,' Bernardina Baez said, as she glanced at the ribbon on the grass. "And we will never forget him.'
Sara A. Carter can be reached at (909) 483-8552, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Copyright © 2005 San Gabriel Valley Tribune