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GI died for his adopted land
In Washington Terrace, the family of a Utah soldier recalled Monday the life of Cpl. Juan Carlos Cabral Banuelos, who died over the weekend in an explosion in Iraq.
Cabral, 25, a Mexican national, was to become a U.S. citizen this spring. He was among three soldiers killed when their vehicle struck a homemade explosive device near the northern city of Kirkuk, a spokesman for Fort Hood, Texas, said on Monday.
Just last year, a grenade hit a building where Cabral was making a phone call from Iraq, his father Angel Cabral of Washington Terrace said.
"He told me it wasn't a serious injury," said Angel Cabral. "But we always worried. How could we not? We saw on television the danger he faced."
The older Cabral last spoke on the phone with his son in October when the young man had a 15-day leave in Texas to visit his wife, Anita, and two sons, ages 7 and 1. The soldier tried but couldn't travel to Utah, which he considered home.
"He was really happy, he had seen his baby take his first steps," said his younger brother, Josť Cabral, of Brigham City.
Cabral, who was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, enlisted in 1996 and had been at Fort Hood since 1999. Although he was stationed for a time in Emporia, Kan., he listed his home state as Utah. He was a citizen of Mexico and a legal resident of the United States. In April, he was supposed to become a U.S. citizen, his brother said.
"He was supposed to be there [in Iraq] 40 more days or so and then he talked about coming home to fix up his 1963 Impala," Josť said.
Cabral lived in Ogden from the time he was 1 until he was 16. He attended Ogden High School and served as an altar boy at St. Joseph Church, said Josť Cabral.
"He loved God and he thought of the church as his home," Josť Cabral said.
He graduated from high school in Kansas, where he was living with his mother, who also now lives in Utah.
"He wanted to see the world and he wanted to work on cars," Josť Cabral said.
He saw the Army as a means to pursue both interests. The Army took him to Germany, among other places, and trained him as a light-truck mechanic.
The other soldiers killed in the roadside attack were also light-truck mechanics assigned to Company A, 4th Forward Support Battalion.
They were identified by the Defense Department as Sgt. Eliu Miersandoval, 27, of San Clemente, Calif., and Pfc. Holly McGeogh, 19, of Taylor, Mich. Their vehicle hit the improvised mine while traveling in a convoy about 27 miles south of Kirkuk.
They are among 116 coalition soldiers killed from roadside bombs since President Bush announced in May that major combat operations were over.
Another 1,179 coalition forces have been wounded in the roadside attacks, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad.
Cabral's death brings to seven the number of soldiers from Utah or with strong ties to the state killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In addition, five soldiers from the Utah National Guard have been wounded by roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.