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Army Spc. Edgar Daclan Jr., 24, Torrance; Killed on Patrol in Iraq

September 19, 2004|Dave McKibben | Times Staff Writer

Edgar Daclan Jr. was just two semesters short of an electrical engineering degree from Cal State Long Beach when he surprised his family by enlisting in the Army.

"He was upset about the terrorist attacks," said Daclan's elder sister, Iris. "He joined because he wanted to make a difference, do something for our country. He did a brave thing. He's our hero and we're very proud of him."

Daclan, 24, immigrated to Torrance from the Philippines in 1993 with Iris and their father, Edgar Sr.

The Army specialist was killed Sept. 10 when an explosive detonated while his patrol was responding to indirect fire in Balad, Iraq, the Defense Department said. Daclan was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Iris Daclan, 26, said her brother never regretted enlisting in the Army two years ago. "When he was interviewed in Iraq by a newspaper, a lot of the other soldiers said they had made a mistake by joining the Army," she said. "But Edgar said he knew what he was getting into, that it was dangerous work."

Deployed to Iraq in February, Daclan was an emergency medic and usually in frontline positions.

"He sent an e-mail to a friend saying every day was like the movie 'Blackhawk Down,' " Iris said.

Aileen Daclan, 21, who is in the process of immigrating to the United States with other family members, said she bragged to college classmates in the Philippines that her brother had enlisted in the U.S. Army. "But I had no idea he'd be going to Iraq," she said. "That's when I started to get really worried."

Daclan was due home Sept. 25 for a two-week leave before returning to Iraq. "We were so excited we were going to see him again," Iris said. "It's very hard to believe he's gone."

The only boy in a family of six, Daclan was a natural in math, just like his father, who is an engineer, his family said. After graduating from Narbonne High School in Harbor City, Daclan moved to Cypress and shared an apartment with three cousins. While working two part-time jobs, he still managed to keep his grades up. "He didn't have to study as much as everyone else," Iris said. "He was just so bright."

In addition to his father and sisters Aileen and Iris, Daclan is survived by his mother, Gertrude; and sisters Cristine, Ira and Sheila. Daclan, who received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, will be buried Friday at Riverside National Cemetery.

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