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Stewart soldier's death under review

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POSTED: May 12, 2010 10:59 a.m.
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Staff Sgt. Esau S.A. Gonzales

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Staff Sgt. Esau S.A. Gonzales died May 3 in Mosul, Iraq, from a gunshot wound to the chest. Army officials confirmed Monday this was a non-combat related injury. The sergeant’s death remains under investigation.
Gonzales, 30, of White Deer, Texas, was assigned to the 38th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Company at Fort Stewart.  The company comes under the 20th Support Command CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives) headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson said Gonzales joined the Army in April 2003 and arrived at the installation in May 2009. The sergeant had experienced two deployments, according to Larson.
A city-sponsored memorial was held for Gonzales in Panhandle, Texas, last Friday, and his funeral is today, according to Amarillo.com. Gonzales’ family members were among the 100 people reported to have attended last week’s memorial service.
“Everybody’s hurting, the whole community,” Wally Lanier Jr., Gonzales’ uncle, was quoted to have said. “It’s broken everybody’s hearts. It’s the first kid we’ve lost. Hopefully the last.”
Panhandle is a small town of about 2,600 residents, according to Amarillo.com. Panhandle Mayor Dan Looten is reported to have expressed shock over Gonzales’ death.
“It could have been any one of us,” Looten was quoted to have said. “We are a family. We’re just a large, extended family.”
Gonzales is survived by his wife, Melissa, a daughter, Eva, 4, and a son, Sam, 2, according to Amarillo.com. The online news source also reported the sergeant graduated from Panhandle High School in 1998 and served with the Navy before joining the Army.
Nearly 5,000 U.S. service members have died since the United States went to war in Iraq seven years ago, USA Today reported Sunday.
 

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