JBLM loses 5th soldier in 10 days
On the day the nation remembered those who have died in service to their country, the Pentagon identified the fifth Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier to be killed in Afghanistan in 10 days.
Spc. Vilmar Galarza Hernandez, 21, of Salinas, Calif., died Saturday in Kandahar province of southern Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device, according to information released Monday by the Pentagon.
Galarza was an infantryman assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Galarza enlisted in the Army four years ago and was on his second deployment, said his wife, Margarita Contreras, in a phone interview.
Galarza went to high school in Salinas, graduating in 2008. His parents and a sister still live there, Contreras said.
Contreras and Galarza married in a Pierce County courtroom on March 28, less than two weeks before he deployed to Afghanistan. Galarza’s Facebook page shows a photo of the couple getting married – he in a dress uniform and she in a white dress.
Contreras said she met Galarza during a visit to Central California in June 2011. She said the two of them would jump in the car with one destination in mind and end up somewhere else.
“He was very spontaneous,” she said.
Contreras returned to Muskegon, Mich., to be with family during his deployment. She received a knock at the door Saturday night.
“They told me he was out, and he stepped on a bomb,” she said.
Galarza is the brigade’s second fatality. Pfc. Cale Miller died on Thursday after insurgents attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device.