Army Staff Sgt. Juan De Dios Garcia-Arana had a fondness for horseplay, liked to tinker with cars and electronics, and was hoping to make the military his career.
"He was a role model type of brother," Edgardo Garcia said of his older sibling, who had a penchant for disassembling and reassembling radios and TVs as a kid and taught his two younger brothers how to install sound systems in vehicles. "He would just tell us, 'If you're going to do something, make sure you do it and finish it. Don't do it [halfway] and procrastinate.' "
Garcia-Arana, a 27-year-old married father of one from Los Angeles, was killed April 30 when the Bradley fighting vehicle he was captain of was attacked with small-arms fire in Khaladiyah, Iraq, the Department of Defense said.
He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Hovey, South Korea.
Garcia-Arana was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved to Los Angeles in 1993. The 1998 graduate of John C. Fremont High School enlisted in the Army three months after graduation and was deployed to Iraq last August.
"You would never find that guy sad or depressed," said Edgardo Garcia, 21, who followed in his older brother's footsteps and enlisted in the Army in April 2003. He was deployed to Kuwait in December, then to Iraq, but is home now on emergency leave. "He was one of the most joyful guys around."
Edgardo Garcia, a specialist assigned to the 376th Personnel Services Battalion from Long Beach, recalled how his brother liked to playfully bait him and their younger brother, Angel, 20, into wrestling matches.
"He would brag about how strong he was," Edgardo Garcia said. "He would tell my brother and I that we were puny and try to wrestle with both of us at the same time."
Despite Garcia-Arana's fondness for wrestling, Edgardo Garcia said he didn't recall his brother ever getting into a fight.
"Wherever he went, he'd be surrounded by friends," Edgardo Garcia said. "He had a lot of charisma and an easy way of going. He was just so easy to talk to."
Garcia-Arana was particularly proud of his son, Adrian, who will celebrate his first birthday May 19, Edgardo Garcia said.
Adrian "was just born and he already wanted to play soccer with him," Edgardo Garcia said. "He was riding around in the car with him the day after he was born and showing him off to his friends."
Garcia-Arana met his wife, Guadalupe, 25, in Mexico when his parents renewed their wedding vows in Guadalajara in January 2001. The couple married on the bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, on Oct. 9, 2003.
In addition to his two brothers, wife and son, Garcia-Arana is survived by his parents, Daniel and Martha; and a 16-year-old sister, Fatima.
A memorial service is planned early in the week at Funeraria Los Angeles Biby y Belyea in South Gate. A religious service and burial will follow later in the week in Guadalajara.