22ndinfantry.org - (04-28) 00:13 PDT BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) -- She had thought her husband, 1st Lt. Osbaldo Orozco, was safe since the fierce fighting had subsided. Then the Army chaplain delivered the news to Mayra Mendez Orozco that her husband of two years died in the war with Iraq. The chaplain went to her parents' home in Delano late Saturday afternoon to inform her that Orozco died when the Bradley fighting vehicle he was riding in rolled over, family members said.
The Bakersfield Californian reported in Monday's newspaper that Orozco, who was deployed with the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, was rushing to help out at a checkpoint under fire in Tikrit, Iraq, when his vehicle rolled over. His Bradley was one of two that flipped over as they maneuvered into position to return fire. A soldier friend of Orozco's also was injured.
"That's all we know right now," Mayra Orozco told the Californian. "We'll know more when the casualty specialty teams get here." The Department of Defense as of late Sunday night had not released Orozco's name as being among the war dead, but his family has been notified.
Mayra Orozco, 26, spoke with pride of her husband and his love for her, his parents, his country and his cat, "Estrellita," which is Spanish for "little star." "He loved that cat so much," his wife said. "He found her at (an animal shelter) and bought her a bow and a little bell to wear."
Her 26-year-old husband was a star linebacker at Delano High School and later played football at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he attended on a full football scholarship. He was a captain for the Mustangs in 1999 and was named the team's Most Inspirational Player. He enrolled in Cal Poly's ROTC program and was commissioned as an Army officer on June 16, 2001, the same day that he graduated from Cal Poly with a bachelor's degree in social science. He was the second of five sons of Mexican immigrants and the first in his family to graduate from college.
"After the Army, he thought he would go into the FBI or the CIA," Mayra Orozco said. "He had a real leadership quality." Her husband, an Earlimart native, believed in the cause that he fought and died for, she said. "He thought we needed to stop terrorism and (Saddam) Hussein and what he was doing to his people," she said.
The only thing that frightened him was that he would miss the war and not be able to serve as platoon leader and Bradley commander. "He commanded four Bradleys and he loved it," she said. "His men adored him and respected him. He was ready to go and do his job. They all were."