04 June 2010

"It was the sad faces of the children"

Staff Sergeant Edwin Rivera.

A Soldier and the father of two sons:

Last summer, six months before he was deployed to Afghanistan for the second time, infantry Sgt. Edwin Rivera sat in his car in the driveway of his parents' house in Waterford and explained to his mother why he was returning to war.

It was the sad faces of the children that he had seen in Afghanistan during his first tour there in 2006, he told his mother, faces that still reminded him of why American soldiers were there.

"When the U.S. soldiers drive by," Rivera told his mother Gladys that night, "the children will scramble like mad in the dust just to get thrown a simple pencil from us. They don't even have pencils. I was born for this, it's my duty, to protect those families over there."

Yesterday, Staff Sergeant Rivera came home.

Waterford firefighters stand in formation as the hearse carrying the flag-draped casket of National Guard Staff Sgt. Edwin Rivera passes by on Rope Ferry Road in Waterford on Thursday. Rivera, a Waterford resident, was fatally wounded while serving in Afghanistan. Photo: Dana Jensen/The Day.

Rivera was wounded on May 20, 2010, medevaced to Landstuhl, and then on to Bethesda Naval Medical Center where he died on May 25 as the result of his wounds. Rivera deployed to Afghanistan in early January with the 1st Battalion of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, a Connecticut National Guard unit based in New Haven.

He was loved, and he will always be remembered.

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