Analaura Esparza-Gutierrez

After her engagement to a fellow soldier, an excited Analaura Esparza-Gutierrez wrote to a childhood friend. “I was about to cry when he proposed,” Esparza wrote to Sharon Garcia. “He was so nervous. He could barely get the words out.” Esparza planned to get married next year after she returned from Iraq. “She never thought something bad was going to happen to her,” Garcia said. Pfc. Esparza, 21, of Houston, was killed in a roadside bombing Oct. 1 near the U.S. base in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. Esparza joined the Army in 2002 so she could eventually attend college. She arrived at Fort Hood nearly a year ago and was sent to Iraq in April for a one-year tour. “I want people to remember my daughter for what she was — a hero,” said her father, Agustin Velazco Esparza. “I feel sad because she was killed, but I feel proud also because she gave her life for this country. She was very brave.”