Sunday, May 25, 2008

In Memoriam: Air Force Senior Airman Pedro I. Espaillat Jr. and Army Lt. Richard Torres

Torres: son of Peruvian immigrants, 3.9 GPA at Austin Peay, Purple Heart and Bronze Star

Espaillat: came to Maury County from Dominican Republic, honors at Spring Hill HS, enlisted week before 9/11

This Memorial Day, the Hispanic Nashville Notebook remembers two Hispanic servicemen who came to Tennessee before their names were added to the lists of the fallen:

Army Lt. Richard Torres was the first Austin Peay ROTC graduate killed in combat since the school began the program in 1971. ... Torres grew up in Passaic, New Jersey, the son of Peruvian immigrants Dora and Gulian Torres, and during his childhood he discovered his interest in military service. ... The Rev. Antonio Rodriguez, pastor at Holy Trinity Church, performed the liturgy in both English and Spanish for those who had traveled from Tennessee, Texas and Peru to pay their final respects. ... entered the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., where Torres got a three-year scholarship and maintained a 3.9 grade-point average. ... "His dream was to retire in the military and get his master's and teach at West Point. He said he wasn't going to stop until he got his doctorate. He said, 'Watch, one day, I'll be the president of the United States.' " ... Richard Torres was posthumously honored with a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star

Air Force Senior Airman Pedro I. Espaillat Jr. came to Maury County in 1993 with his mother and two brothers from the Dominican Republic. His father, an assembly worker at Saturn Corp., had arrived about three years earlier. ... a 2001 honors graduate at Spring Hill High School ... chose to enlist ... one week before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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