03/16/04 — Guardsman's new role unknown to family

View Archive

Guardsman's new role unknown to family

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on March 16, 2004 2:00 PM

A National Guardsman's death in Iraq was caused when an explosive device was detonated near his vehicle, according to the National Guard.

Spc. Jocelyn "Joce" Carrasquillo, 28, was the only soldier hurt in the attack. He is from Wayne County and his family is awaiting the return of his twin brother, Ronald, who is also serving in Iraq.

Carrasquillo was living near Wilmington. He was a member of the Wilmington-based 120th Infantry Regiment. He was a gunner in a convoy Saturday when the device exploded.

He was a 1994 graduate of Southern Wayne High School and was one of four sons born to Isabel Carrasquillo of Goldsboro and retired Air Force Capt. Luis Carrasquillo Sr. of Myrtle Beach.

The family says Joce Carrasquillo recently was assigned to work as a gunner in a convoy although he was trained for supply work such as distributing water and uniforms.

"It was a shock to us," said his older brother Luis Carrasquillo of Goldsboro. "If we had known that, I'm sure we would already have been worried."

Chad Clark, Joce Carrasquillo's roommate in Wilmington, said Carrasquillo told him about the switch last week, adding that he didn't think the specialist was trained well enough to be a gunner.

"Oh no, absolutely not," Clark said. "I think he would have done everything he was told, but as far as the skills to be trained for that position, from the knowledge I've got, no he was not prepared."

Clark said the family wanted to know more about the accident, during which Joce Carrasquillo reportedly suffered a fatal injury to the head, and about the assignment change.

Clark described his friend as a joker, a great dancer and a relentlessly upbeat person.

"The world could be falling apart and he'd find something positive about it," Clark said. "When people pass on, others always say, 'They were smiling.' But he was. I can't elaborate on that enough, as far as how many people's lives he touched."

Carrasquillo had served in the National Guard for seven years while working and studying occupational therapy and massage therapy in Wilmington. Clark said he volunteered his skills at nursing homes in his free time.

"We will miss Spc. Carrasquillo," said Brig. Gen. Danny Hackman, commander of the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Heavy Separate Brigade. "His passing will affect us all, but serves to increase our resolve to succeed in our mission."

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Spc. Carrasquillo and we ask that everyone keep the Carrasquillo family in their thoughts and prayers," said Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., adjutant general of the N.C. National Guard. "Spc. Carrasquillo's death is a terrible tragedy, but the mission for which he gave his life continues with his fellow soldiers who remain on duty in Iraq."

The National Guard release stated that Joce Carrasquillo is the second soldier from the state National Guard to die in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Bobby Franklin from Detachment 2 of the 210th Military Police Company in Murphy was killed when a device exploded in Baghdad in August.

His twin brother, Ronald Carrasquillo, has been stationed in Iraq for more than a year. He is a deputy with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and an Army reservist and was deployed last April.

Ronald learned Sunday night of his twin's death, according to the family. The Carrasquillos have contacted the Red Cross for help bringing him back home a month ahead of his scheduled leave.

Ronald called from Kuwait this morning and said he plans to be in North Carolina sometime late Wednesday afternoon, said Melissa Carrasquillo, Luis's wife. He is flying into John F. Kennedy Airport and then into Raleigh-Durham International Airport, she added.

The brigade plans a memorial service in Iraq for later this week.

Carrasquillo entered federal active service on Oct. 1 when his unit was activated as part of the call-up of the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade, which is based in Clinton.

The brigade is made up of nearly 5,000 soldiers, including 3,800 from N.C. armories. It departed from Ft. Bragg for Iraq between Feb. 23 and March 1. The unit will spend 18 months on active duty, 12 months of which will be in Iraq.

Jocelyn was a unit supply specialist assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry.

He joined the U.S. Army Reserve in January 1997 and transferred to the N.C. Army National Guard in September 2001. He deployed for the first time three weeks ago.

"He was always smiling," said Luis Carrasquillo, his older brother. "He was having a good time, fighting for our country. He was definitely not scared to be there."

Luis, whose family is originally from Puerto Rico, added that the twins' birthday is March 31 and that Joce Carrasquillo had called their mother March 10 for her birthday.

"He looked after his mother. He pretty much refinanced her house before he left," he said.

Local funeral arrangements are pending the return of Jocelyn's body. Sgt. Marcus Spade with the N.C. National Guard Public Affair Office said the process of transporting the body from overseas usually takes between four to five days. It will go from Iraq to Landstuhl, Germany, then to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and then to the funeral home designated by the family.

Melissa said the family has heard that the body could arrive as soon as Wednesday.

Capt. Robert Carver with National Guard public affairs is scheduled to meet with Jocelyn's family in Goldsboro today and should have more information regarding the funeral service after the meeting, said Spade.

Condolences can be sent to the family at 1504 Peachtree St. in Goldsboro.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)