03/21/04 — Guardsman's death discussed

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Guardsman's death discussed

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 21, 2004 2:05 AM

Jocelyn Luis Carrasquillo died a hero. That's the one thing his family will feel certain of when they lay him to rest today in Goldsboro.

Family members said Friday that they continue to want more details surrounding the National Guardsman's death from a landmine explosion a week ago in Iraq.

"All we have heard are rumors. Everything is completely incomplete," said his father, Luis A. Carrasquillo Sr.

The family is worried that the Guardsman died because he was forced to do gunner duty instead of the supply work for which he trained, his father said. "We have a real concern and want a complete report on what happened to my son."

But a National Guard spokesman said Friday that Spc. Carrasquillo was well-trained for the duties that unfortunately led to his death.

"He could have had 100 years of training and it wouldn't have any difference at all," said Capt. Robert Carver of the National Guards public affairs office. "He had no time to react when that explosive device went off."

Joce Carrasquillo, 28, of Wrightsville Beach, had only been deployed to Iraq for three weeks. He was travelling with his unit in a convoy in the western section of Baghdad Saturday, March 13, when a partially buried, disguised explosive went off, Carver said. Carrasquillo, who was sitting in the passenger seat of a truck, was killed instantly. No one else from his unit was injured.

Carrasquillo was carrying a M-16 and was protecting the convoy, Carver said. But that was true of everyone in his unit.

"Everyone in a convoy is defending the convoy," he said. "Whenever you move from point A to Point B, you're at your most vulnerable point. So every soldier, whether a supply clerk, a typist, whatever, is carrying a weapon. Everyone is a soldier first and it's a team effort."

The Guardsmen go through extensive weapons training after they enlist, Carver said. That training was reinforced as the Wilmington-based 120th Infantry Regiment prepared last fall and this year to deploy. Supply units would drill repeatedly in convoy protection, he added.

He apologized if the family feels they haven't been treated properly or received all the information they need.

"They are understandably upset, in pain, and it's up to us to get them the information they need," Carver said.

Joce Carrasquillo was one of four sons of Isabel and Luis Carrasquillo. He was born at Peace Air Force Base in New Hampshire. In 1980 the family moved to Goldsboro with the father's transfer to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Joce Carrasquillo graduated from Southern Wayne High School in 1994 and lived here until five years ago. He moved to Wrightsville Beach where he worked and studied occupational therapy and massage therapy.

He was a unit supply specialist assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry. His National Guard unit was activated Oct. 1 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 in February.

His mother and two brothers, Luis Jr. and Ronald, still live in Goldsboro. Ronald Carrasquillo, Joce's twin, is a deputy with the Wayne County Sheriff's Office who has just returned from a year's deployment with the Army Reserves.

He is also survived by his father, of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; his brother Kenneth "Kenny" Carrasquillo of Grifton; and several nieces and nephews.

Military representatives, Carrasquillo's friends and family will gather today at 2:30 p.m. at The First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Goldsboro. The Rev. Jimmy Whitfield and the Rev. Bill Rose will officiate the memorial service. Burial with full military honors will follow at Wayne Memorial Park.

Donations may be made in Joce's memory to The First Pentecostal Holiness Church, 1100 The First Church Road, Goldsboro, N.C., 27534. Condolences can be sent to the family at 1504 Peachtree St. in Goldsboro.