Glendale soldier mourned
joins to remember Rel Ravago IV, 21, dead in Mosul street shooting
A Glendale soldier known for his radiant smile and irrepressible
personality was mourned Monday by relatives and friends after his shooting death in the streets of Mosul, Iraq.
Army Spc. Rel Allen Ravago IV, 21, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, was fatally
shot along with Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry L. Wilson, 45, of Thomson, Ga. Initial reports said the pair had been dragged from
their car by a mob and beaten with rocks, but Pentagon officials discounted that Monday and said the soldiers had been shot
Ravago's parents had watched television reports of the attack before learning the
victim was their own son.
Relatives and friends of the affable young man said they wanted to reminisce about
his life rather than his violent death.
"What I always see is the smile, the warmth, the invitation into his world,' said
Craig Kupka, the drum corps teacher at Hoover High School, where Ravago graduated in 2000.
At 5 feet 2, Ravago was able to pull off flips and other gymnastic stunts that made
him a popular student.
"He was the shortest of them all, but he was the big brother. He had a huge personality
and a huge heart,' said Kathy Angers, a Hoover High teacher whose daughter was one of Ravago's closest friends. "He was effervescent,
The woman Ravago called "Mama Angers' slowly flipped through her daughter's photo
album Monday, showing pictures of the smiling young man on prom night, during a phase when he dyed his hair orange, and doing
flips while celebrating his birthday at a Tony Roma's restaurant.
"He was at the house all the time with the kids doing what teenagers do,' Angers
said. "He loved to dance, to sing and do martial arts.'
Ravago was artistically inclined, so his family was shocked when he announced he
planned to enlist in the Army after high school.
"We didn't expect him to,' said Ravago's grandfather, Rel Ravago. "But it was his
final decision to join the Army because he wanted to serve his country.'
The family's patriarch moved to Glendale from the Philippines in 1970, and instilled
in his children and grandchildren a sense of patriotism for their adopted country. A large American flag surrounded by miniature
lights is displayed from the window of his apartment one he put up after Sept. 11, 2001, and does not intend to remove.
Friends gathered at the Ravago home Sunday night to grieve and reminisce with his
"The priest was there and they were praying. The living room was full of his friends,
so it was comforting to be with all these people who love Rel so much,' Angers said.
"I guess it's kind of like life condensed all the fun and the laughter and the sadness
thrown into one moment,' Angers said.
"All Americans are paying a price in this war and now it's come home to our own city,'
Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero said.
Ravago was not the only soldier from the Los Angeles area killed in Iraq Sunday.
Army Staff Sgt. Eddie E. Menyweather, 35, of Los Angeles also was killed when a bomb exploded in Baqubah.
Menyweather's aunt said Monday the deaths in Iraq did not hit home until she lost
"You don't realize until it's you,' Oransteen Reed told KABC-TV. "All these people
just losing their family, their sons.'
Menyweather was assigned to Company C, 588th Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division
in Fort Hood, Texas. He is survived by his wife and two children, who live in Houston.
-The Associated Press contributed to this story.