PHOTO CAPTION: Staff. Sgt. Thomas M. McFall, in this undated photo, died Monday when his patrol was hit by an improvised explosive device in Baghdad.
Ex-Glendora soldier dies in Iraq
By Fred Ortega Staff Writer
A former Glendora resident and Army soldier was killed on Memorial Day in Baghdad, military officials said Wednesday.
Staff Sgt. Thomas M. McFall, 36, died Monday when an improvised explosive device detonated near his position during a "dismounted patrol" in the Iraqi capital, according to a statement issued by officials at Fort Lewis, Wash., where McFall was based.
Also killed in the blast was 20-year-old Cpl. Junior Cedeno Sanchez of Miami. The two soldiers were assigned to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
Records indicate that McFall's family lived on the 1300 block of Westridge Avenue in Glendora in the early 1990s. But McFall's wife, Emily McFall, said he always considered Riverside home.
"He joined the service quite a while ago, in 1994; he never mentioned Glendora," said Emily McFall, speaking by telephone from the family home in Tacoma, Wash.
Emily McFall said her husband leaves behind a son and two daughters. She issued a written statement in which she described Thomas as a gregarious man who could start up a conversation with anyone and who loved barbecuing, beer and classic rock.
"Somehow, he always took over the barbecue, even if it was someone else's house," read the statement. "He was the `BBQ King. the best ribs."
She said he loved the service and would have spent 13 years in the Army this October.
"We opened our house to many for Christmas and Thanksgiving, so his soldiers would not be alone for the holidays," said Emily McFall. "When many would he would say to them, `it's the easiest job in the world."'
McFall earned numerous awards and decorations during his 13-year military career, according to Ft. Lewis officials, including three Army Commendation medals and four Army Achievement medals. He served tours in South Korea and Afghanistan, and was deployed to Iraq in April.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a statement about McFall's death, and ordered flags at the state Capitol to be flown at half-staff in his honor.
"His death is a reminder of the dangers inherent in protecting this country, and his service will not be forgotten," Schwarzenegger said.
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