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StarBulletin.com

Isle soldiers to honor slain comrade


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POSTED: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A memorial service for Spc. Michael “;Mike”; Anaya, who was killed Sunday in Iraq when his truck drove over a roadside bomb, will be held tomorrow at Forward Operating Base Summerall, northwest of Baghdad.

He was the fourth soldier from the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team to die in Iraq since the unit was sent there in October.

Soldiers from his unit, Company A, remember the first-term soldier for his sense of humor.

“;It didn't take long for someone to become best friends with Anaya,”; said Pfc. Daniel Hicks in an e-mail. “;He was always laughing and making everyone around have a great time.”;

Staff Sgt. Wes Reyher, his squad leader, added, “;He was the platoon jester. I've never met someone who could laugh as loud and often.”;

Anaya's company commander, Capt. Drew Davies, said, “;Heaven itself will be improved by his presence there.”;

Lt. Col. Raul E. Gonzalez, commander of 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment “;Wolfhounds,”; said, “;He was an exemplary soldier by every measure. His courage, compassion and character have left an indelible mark on the men of this battalion.”;

The Northwest Florida Daily said Anaya's parents, Carmelo Sr. and Cheryl, and his older siblings, Carmelo Jr. and Trista Moffett, watched yesterday as the flag-draped aluminum case carrying his body was taken off a jumbo jet at Dover Air Force Base to salutes and taken across the tarmac by an honor guard of seven white-gloved soldiers.

“;They did a very professional job,”; his sister told the Florida newspaper. “;It was like they were handling their own family. They were wonderful to him and to us.”;

After the box was placed in a medical examiner's van, Moffett and other family members returned to their vehicle and watched through the windows.

“;We sat until we couldn't see him anymore,”; she told the paper. “;We watched the honor guard walk away.

“;It still feels so unreal,”; she added.

President Barack Obama recently lifted an 18-year ban on photographing the arrival of military members killed overseas, leaving the final decision to the survivors.

Moffett said they based their decision on what they thought Anaya would like.

“;My brother would have thought it was cool that he was on TV,”; she was quoted as saying, adding that when an elementary school (Mililani Uka) adopted his unit in Honolulu, her brother called home to tell her and his mom that he had made the evening news.

“;'Check this out,'”; she told the paper, in the tone her brother used. “;'I'm on TV, dude.'”;

The family plans to hold a memorial service in Crestview, Fla., on Saturday.

Anaya joined the Army in 2006 and was assigned to Schofield Barracks in January 2008.