Joe J. Garza
Wednesday, May 28 2003 @ 04:16 PM EDT
Contributed by: tomw
CBSNEWS.com - Army 1st Sgt. Joe J. Garza joined the Army a few years after high school graduation, and served more than two decades. He figured he'd serve even longer.
"He told me he was going to stay in for as long as the Army would let him," said nephew Sev Lopez. "He loved what he did."
Garza, 43, of Columbus, Ga., and based at Fort Benning, died April 28 in a vehicle accident in Iraq.
Lopez said that after he joined the National Guard he met several people who had Garza as a drill instructor during basic training. They told Lopez his uncle had been tough but fair.
"But I just couldn't picture him that way . . . as a mean drill instructor in someone's face," Lopez said.
"Of all 10 of us he was the one who would try and make you laugh," said Garza's sister, Manuela Espinoza. "He was the clown of the family."
Garza is survived by his wife of 24 years, Mary, sons Joe Garza Jr. and John, and daughter Myra.