SFC Gary Joseph Vasquez
Died Sep. 29, 2008 in Afghanistan
Sgt. 1st Class Gary J. Vasquez was a 1992 graduate of Highland Illinois High School and got a drama degree from Illinois State University in 1996. He then moved to Chicago where he worked in a bar and the local theater. He also began working with a local veteran’s group and began to rethink his priorities and patriotism. His late father, Frank Vasquez, spent his career in the Army, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Gary carried his father’s dog tags as a remembrance of his father’s military career and service to our country. In January of 2000, Gary volunteered for military service as a cavalry scout. After basic and advanced individual training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he was assigned to Troop. A, 1st Bn., 17th Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C. He began the Special Forces Qualification Course 2002 and he earned the coveted “Green Beret” in 2004 and was assigned to 1st Bn., 7th SFG(A) at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a Special Forces engineer sergeant. Gary married Sarah Kramer on October 14, 2006. He had a unique sense of humor, and combining that with his drama training, one Christmas he removed the clear, circular sticker with the letter “L,” denoting size large, from a new shirt and placed it upside down on his grandmother’s watch. It was a few weeks before family members could figure out why she kept insisting the time was 9:30 — all of the time. Currently assigned as a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha senior engineer sergeant, assigned to assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C., he was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan when he died in Yakhchal, Afghanistan, along with 2 other soldiers when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device during mounted operations. He had deployed in May of 2008. Gary’s awards and decorations include two Bronze Stars, two Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, two Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab and the Special Forces Tab. He is buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery in Highland, Illinois.