A 21-year-old soldier based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state has been killed in an attack in Afghanistan.
In an updated statement sent Tuesday, the Department of Defense said that Spc. Vilmar Galarza Hernandez, of Salinas died Saturday in the Kandahar province when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
This was his first deployment.
He was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in January 2010, and upon arrival Spc. Galarza Hernandez was assigned to 4-23 Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The unit deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in April.
In a statement, his company commander noted him as “the model Soldier,” said Capt. Brandon Wohlschlegel, Bravo Company Commander, 4-23 Infantry Regiment. “Under some of the most difficult conditions I have ever seen, Spc. Galarza Hernandez was always doing the right thing. He was a rock that we could all depend on in any situation. Spc. Galarza Hernadez was the kind of guy that I would follow anywhere knowing he was in the lead.”
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, The Purple Heart Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, NATO Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.