Soldier’s ashes to be
interred at Punchbowl

The staff sergeant served in Iraq
with the 25th Infantry Division

Staff Sgt. Oscar Medina today will become the second casualty from the Iraqi war to be entombed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

His ashes will be placed in a hillside columbarium close to those of Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Blankenbecler, 40, who was interred in Punchbowl on Nov. 24. He served with the 25th Infantry Division in 1997.

Medina, 32, and Spc. Ramon C. Ojeda, 22, were killed May 1 when Moqtada al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army attacked a military supply convoy outside the southern Iraqi city of Amarah. The two were members of the 25th Infantry Division's 84th Engineer Battalion.


Medina enlisted in the Army 12 years ago and had wanted to retire in Hawaii.

To date, five 25th Infantry Division soldiers have been killed since its 2nd Brigade Combat Team was deployed to Iraq in January.

Beate Medina said some of her husband's ashes will be buried in Florida near the gravesite of his grandmother, who raised him.

"He really had a special relationship with his grandmother, and that was very important to him," Beate Medina said last week. "He will now be with his grandmother. ... She raised him, basically."

Medina, who was born in Colombia but raised in Chicago, will posthumously be awarded the Purple Heart medal. Besides his widow, his survivors include a son, Daniel; mother, Francia Lopez, who lives in Kissimmee, Fla.; brother, Mike Lopez; and sister, Patricia Lopez.

Blankenbecler, of Alexandria, Va., was in a convoy on Oct. 1 that was hit by an improvised explosive device and rocket propelled grenades in Samarra. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, at Fort Hood in Texas. When he was killed he had been in Iraq for only 17 days.

Blankenbecler joined the Army in 1983 and his career included service in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. He is the highest-ranking enlisted man killed by hostile fire in the Iraq war.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --