Submitted by:  Janie Healer Davis

Roscoe again hit by death in Iraq

Decorated soldier Conrad Alvarez kept close ties to home, high school

The other two soldiers were Cpl. Albert Bitton, 20, of Chicago, Ill., and Spc. Micheal B. Matlock Jr., 21, of Glen Burnie, Md. The men were members of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky.
 
A memorial service for the fallen soldiers will be held in Iraq. Alvarez's body has been flown back to the United States for funeral services, said family spokesman the Rev. Joel Miller of Big Spring. He said he did not have funeral details yet.
 
Alvarez was the second Roscoe High School graduate to die in Iraq recently. Last month, Army Staff Sgt. Wayne Jeffries, 37, was killed after his convoy was hit by a bomb.
 
Alvarez was an infantryman assigned to A Co., 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He entered the Army in March 2005 and arrived at Fort Campbell in August 2005.
 
He is survived by his wife, Maria, of Oak Grove, Ky.; daughters, Celeste and Alyssa, of Sweetwater; father, Arthur, whose address is unknown; and mother, Belinda Garcia, of Big Spring, according to the Fort Campbell news release.
 
Relatives could not be reached for comment Friday.
 
Miller said the family was in shock after learning of Alvarez's death Wednesday morning from Army officials. He said the family has already lost one relative to the war. Alvarez's sister, Christina, was married to Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, a buddy from his platoon who was abducted and decapitated by al-Qaida in 2006 in Iraq.
 
Alvarez's awards and decorations include: Army Commendation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Combat Infantry Badge; and Weapons Qualification, M4, expert.
Alvarez attended Roscoe High School, where he played football and was "one of the best punt returners I've ever seen," said Wes Williams, the high school's athletic director. He said Alvarez was an outgoing person who regularly stayed in touch after he graduated in November 2003.
 
Alvarez graduated from the Hobbs alternative high school, in which several school districts, including Roscoe, participated.
 
Roscoe High School Principal Frank Young remembers Alvarez as a "good guy" who had some problems, which led him to the alternative high school, but that he turned his life around.
 
Williams said Alvarez was the kind of person people would meet and like immediately.
 
"I always looked forward to having him come by because he was such a very magnetic personality," he said. "... He always had such a great heart."
 
The two kept in touch by e-mail, and Alvarez enjoyed keeping up with the Plowboys football team. The two visited in person between the soldier's tours of duty to Iraq.
 
"He was proud to serve," Williams said.
 
Alvarez called him just before he left on his latest tour to Iraq. Williams said his spirits were high, and he talked of becoming a military recruiter.
 
Williams was notified by a relative of his death Wednesday.
 
"That news hurt pretty bad," he said, adding, "I was sure proud of that kid. He had really done well in the military."



Alvarez turned his life around and was proud to serve in Army
Written by Kimberly Gray
THE SWEETWATER REPORTER
Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Less than a month after hearing of the death of Roscoe High School graduate, Staff Sgt. Gary W. Jeffries while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, news came that this community was hit with another loss in Iraq. Sgt. Conrad Alvarez, age 22, was one of three soldiers killed last week in Baghdad after their vehicle was hit by a bomb.

Alvarez attended Sweetwater schools during some of his elementary years, according to assistant superintendent Terry Pittman, who also remembers coaching him on a Little League team. However, he attended Roscoe High School and eventually graduated from HOBBS High School, our area alternative high school.

Roscoe High School’s athletic director and head football coach, Wes Williams, remembers Alvarez well not only for his athleticism, but also for his infectious personality. “He was definitely a leader-type person,” Williams said.

Alvarez played defensive back, receiver and returned punts for the Plowboys and also played basketball. He attended Roscoe High School for most of his high school years.

During his senior year, he had to transfer to HOBBS where he completed his high school work and graduated in May of 2004. Alvarez kept in touch with Williams after graduation through phone calls and emails, and Williams could tell he had matured and turned his life around.

“He was proud to serve and proud of his accomplishments,” Williams pointed out. Alvarez earned several awards and decorations while serving in the army.

The last time Williams heard from him was right before his latest deployment to Iraq. During the deployment prior, Williams said Alvarez was able to come home for a short time only for the funeral of his sister's husband, who was also killed in Iraq. According to reports, his brother-in-law and platoon buddy, Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, was abducted and decapitated at the hands of al-Qaida in 2006.

Alvarez himself leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Williams said he always looked forward to hearing from Alvarez and remembers him as a positive person. “He never forgot where he came from,” Williams pointed out.

HOBBS principal Dennis Moseley quickly recognized Alvarez as “a man on a mission” when he came to HOBBS. Moseley said he was determined to earn his high school diploma and to turn his life around once he enrolled in the alternative school.
He also remembered him as a good athlete and a very strong-willed individual. “He was never wishy-washy and was always honest in his dealings with me,” Moseley said.

Moseley said that after Alvarez graduated, he later called him and told Moseley that he appreciated him being tough on him and apologized for any disrespect he had shown to Moseley, his staff and the teachers while he was there. He called him a few times after that just to check in and say 'hello.'

Moseley said he considers Alvarez a great example of their mission at HOBBS to help young people overcome obstacles and to make something of themselves despite those obstacles.

“He was no better or worse than any of the other students we have had,” Moseley explained, “but he was able to overcome a lot, and I have the greatest respect for him.”

Moseley said that it was ironic that out of the 50 or so students who graduated that year, Alvarez was chosen to hold the American flag during the graduation ceremony. “We knew he would do it right and carry it with honor,” Moseley said.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Myers & Smith Chapel in Big Spring. Burial with full military honors will be at Mt. Olive Memorial Park. Vigil services will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Myers & Smith Chapel.

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