03/22/04 — Over 900 say farewell to Joce

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Over 900 say farewell to Joce

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on March 22, 2004 1:59 PM

Snap shots of Spc. Jocelyn "Joce" Carrasquillo smiling on the beach with his friends and hugging his family members were shown on a large screen in the First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

All was quiet except for some whispers and sobbing. Flowers filled the sanctuary and an American flag covered his coffin.

More than 900 people gathered inside the Goldsboro church on Sunday to pay tribute to the life of Carrasquillo, 28, who was killed on March 13 in Iraq when an explosive device was detonated near his vehicle. He is the second soldier from the state National Guard to die in Iraq.

Soldier's funeral

Isabel Carrasquillo leans over to kiss her son, Spc. Jocelyn Carrasquillo, goodbye prior to the start of his funeral service Sunday at The First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Goldsboro. The photo was taken by Karen Tam of The Associated Press, who was allowed inside the funeral to take pictures for all media.

Attendees included fellow soldiers, friends and coworkers.

"He served his country, and I want him known as a hero," said Ronald Carrasquillo, his twin brother who 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. He was deployed last April.

"He was the most wonderful brother; I love him with all my heart," he said.

Ronald also spoke of Joce's devotion toward their mother, Isabel.

"And I love my mother and I will look after her, because I know those would be his wishes."

Joce was a unit supply specialist assigned to the Wilmington-based Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry, and deployed for the first time several weeks ago.

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

He had served in the National Guard for seven years while working and studying occupational therapy and massage therapy in Wilmington.

He 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.

The Rev. Bill Rose said Joce was a loving person who had a strong faith.

"It was a privilege to know your son," he said to Joce's family sitting in the front pews. "He was a man who knew God. Your angel truly has become one."

The Rev. Jimmy Whitfield said they will never forget what Joce did for his country.

"Joce invested his life in your security and your safety," he said.

A seemingly endless row of vehicles traveled to the grave site at Wayne Memorial Park off of U.S. 117 South.

The crowd gathered around the grave site while 12 U.S. flags waved in the wind. Color Guard members from the 1st Corps Support Command at Fort Bragg carried the coffin toward Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., adjutant general of the N.C. National Guard, who saluted it.

The flag covering the coffin was folded, and Ingram took it to Joce's mother. He knelt down to console her as she broke into tears.

Ingram shook the hands of other family members, and those attending paid their respects to the family.

Joce was interred with full military honors.