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Friday, July 15, 2005
Punchbowl service set
Cariaga was a member of the 29th Brigade Combat Team's 229th Military Intelligence Company. He was in an eight-vehicle convoy that was returning to Logistical Support Area Anaconda near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, on July 2 when his Humvee hit a land mine and he was killed. His three passengers were injured.
At a memorial service held at the Anaconda Army base camp, where Cariaga's unit is stationed, Capt. Michael Desmond said: "It was a true pleasure to command Spc. Cariaga. He was everything a commander could have asked for in a soldier. Spc. Cariaga excelled in every soldier task he undertook, from always scoring 300 on the PT (physical training) test, to qualifying 'expert' on three different weapon systems, to memorizing all of the combat lifesaver tasks. Whatever he did, he mastered.
"That day, he was doing a job that he loved, collecting intelligence so we could prevent attacks against American soldiers. The day previous to his death, he was part of a team with the Office of Special Investigations that found numerous caches loaded with IED-making (improvised explosive devices) material, and that will eventually save numerous soldiers' lives.
"One of the greatest rewards in a military career is to lead outstanding warriors of Spc. Cariaga's caliber," Desmond said. "I count myself lucky to have had the privilege to serve with him. He will be missed."
Cariaga was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
He was part of a 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, strike force taking part in "Operation Cobra Strike," developed to stop the indirect-fire attacks on the Anaconda base camp coming from the Al Shahabi area.