Memories, praise flow for fallen soldier.
NORTH BEND - To Sally Prouty, Sgt. 1st Class Adrian M. Elizalde might as well still be a rambunctious second-grader.
Her memories of the "darling" boy's sense of humor, his friendliness, his bright mind and the "spit and polish" with which he arrived at school each day are as clear as the summer sky, if muted now that her memories have become a eulogy.
"He lived to break dance," Prouty said Tuesday. "He played soccer, football, he'd rough and tumble with everybody."
Prouty learned this week that Elizalde, 30, a Special Forces Engineer sergeant, died with another soldier on Aug. 23 when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near Al Aziziyah, southeast of Baghdad in Iraq.
Elizalde and Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Tully, 33, a Special Forces medical sergeant, were assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group Airborne at Fort Lewis, Wash. They were conducting a combat patrol when the vehicle hit the explosive.
The Defense Department initially announced that Elizalde was from North Bend, Ind., which caused some confusion among friends and family.
A California native, Elizalde joined the Army in May 1996 as an infantryman, after he graduated from high school in Oregon's North Bend in 1995.
After four years as an infantryman and scout and three as a Long Range Surveillance Detachment team leader at Fort Bragg, Elizalde earned the prestigious "Green Beret" title when he graduated from a Special Forces Qualification Course in 2005.
Elizalde is survived by his parents, Jorge and Teresa Elizalde, and sister Rachel, all of Renton, Wash.; and his daughter, Sydney Grace, 6, of Klamath Falls.
"In short, he's the most wonderful man you'd want to have on your side," Rachel Elizalde told The World newspaper of Coos Bay. "He stands up for what he believes in. He was a phenomenal father. He was the best."
Teresa Elizade said her son was serious about his military career, but talked about becoming a teacher or a wrestling coach after the Army. Elizalde started wrestling at age 8, according to his father, and won a district championship in high school.
"He was a very disciplined person," Jorge Elizalde said. "Whatever he set his sights on, he went after it. He wanted to be the best at whatever he attempted."
As of Tuesday, at least 3,731 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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|Title Annotation:||General News; Family and friends cope with the death of a former North Bend student in Iraq|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Aug 29, 2007|
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