November 21, 2003
Ceremonial unit buries a comrade
The 3rd U.S. Infantry escorts thousands of Soldiers a year on their last procession. Tuesday, The Old Guard said good-bye to one of its own at Fort Myer's Memorial Chapel.
The left side of the chapel was filled with Old Guard troops dressed in their Class A uniforms to honor Private First Class Leonel Cabrera. The 20-year-old soldier died in a training accident November 12, 2003, at Fort A. P. Hill. The medic went over to help another soldier erect a 30- to 35-foot FM radio antenna, when it struck a 7,200-volt power antenna around 11:30 a.m. Cabrera was declared dead about an hour later at Mary Washington Hospital in Richmond.
Specialist Michael Artis, 23, was also injured in the accident and taken to Virginia Hospital in Richmond. Artis has since recovered and has returned to duty.
The Manassas native joined the Army less than a year ago in Baltimore. He then did his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Cabrera was a member of The Old Guard's Medical Platoon.
A large contingent of family and friends filed into the church moments before the funeral.
A photograph of the Soldier faced the mourners with a proud determined mien.
Sandra Carcamo called Cabrera an “extraordinarily competent man.” A friend, Victor Fuentas spoke both in Spanish and English. “He was a good man, husband and a Soldier,” Fuentas said. “A good man's life was taken, a man of golden dreams, a man who knew what to say to make others feel better.”
Sheen Cabrera, Leonel's pregnant wife, bravely and with amazing composure delivered a tender eulogy to her “husband and best friend.”
Chap. (Major) Raymond Robinson said, “Leon loved his family and the Army. It is truly a tragedy to lose such a young man, who was just starting out in life.”
The chaplain reminded the mourners, “how life and especially death reminds us we're here for only a short period of time.”
Robinson spoke directly to the Old Guard at one point and told them to remember the good memories and not to dwell on the negative.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard