Hours after wife spoke with soldier, he was dead

Associated Press

HOUSTON — Hours before he was killed in combat, Army Spc. Adolfo Cesar Carballo called his wife on her cell phone and told her not to worry. He was eating dinner after having just returned from a mission.

The next time Beatriz Carballo heard news from Iraq, her husband was dead — a victim of shrapnel when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his Humvee south of Baghdad.

The 20-year-old soldier was the 14th person from the Houston area killed while serving in Iraq, and he was among at least seven military personnel with Texas ties who died in fierce combat last week.

Carballo, like some of the dead, was stationed at Fort Hood. He was assigned to the Army’s 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Two other soldiers were injured in the attack that killed Carballo on Saturday night.

“He was counting down the days to come back home,” Beatriz Carballo, 18, told the Houston Chronicle in Tuesday’s editions. “He was worried because he didn’t want to be alone or die young. He said he just wanted to live life. That’s what hurts the most. I couldn’t be there or do anything about it.”

Beatriz Carballo said her husband had been in Iraq about three weeks when he was killed. He had enlisted in June 2002, barely one month after he graduated from John H. Reagan High School.

The soldier had been a member of a crack ROTC drill team at the school, his wife said. She said he liked the military but hoped to finish his hitch and become a Houston police officer.

“I talk to Jesus Christ and beg him that his dying wasn’t in vain,” Cesar Carballo, Carballo’s father, said. “I know he’s in heaven. I know I’ll be there one day to meet him.”

The soldier’s father added he wants U.S. troops to leave Iraq.

“It’s like Vietnam,” he said. “We just went for nothing. We’re never going to win.”

Carballo’s family will make funeral arrangements in a few days after his son’s body is shipped home, his father said.