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Obituaries | MILITARY DEATHS

Army Spc. Adam J. Rosema, 27, Pasadena; killed by roadside bomb

April 22, 2007|Henry Weinstein | Times Staff Writer

Adam Rosema always admired people in the military.

His grandfather Jason Hughes served as a Navy medic and was on Iwo Jima when the American flag was raised on Mt. Suribachi during one of the most legendary battles of World War II.

His father, John Rosema, served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

So it was no surprise to his dad when he decided to enlist in the Army two years ago.

In addition to a desire to serve his country, Rosema thought that the military would provide him the opportunity to learn to be a heavy-duty mechanic so he could work on Caterpillars, his father said. "He figured a good way to learn was joining the service."

Rosema told his close friend Linda Martinez the same thing. Martinez, who runs a day-care center on the same block where he lived in Pasadena, said she understood his motivation but nonetheless expressed concern and pressed her friend to see if he was sure he really wanted to join the Army.

"I said, 'You could go to Iraq; you don't know what will happen,' " Martinez recalled.

"He said, 'Linda, I'll be fine.' "

Rosema joined the Army in April 2005. He went to Ft. Knox, Ky., for basic and specialty training in mechanics, then transferred to Ft. Hood, Texas, where he was a specialist assigned to the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division as a mechanic on Bradley fighting vehicles.

Last October, Rosema was deployed to Iraq, stopping first in Kuwait and then going to Camp Warhorse in Baqubah, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

On March 14, Rosema -- who was working at Camp Warhorse as a mechanic repairing Bradleys and Humvees -- volunteered to go on a routine mission to recover a vehicle that had been disabled during a battle.

Soon after leaving the base, however, his truck struck a roadside bomb.

"He was killed immediately," his father said, adding that his son died two months short of his 28th birthday. "It's a great godsend to me that he died quickly and doing what he wanted.

"He was quite happy with his job. The last time we talked, he indicated he was getting ready to reenlist. He had no complaints. He thought he was doing good for the country.... I was very proud of him. I am very proud of him."

Rosema, who was buried March 26 at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

He "was not afraid of danger; he was always there to help another soldier out," said Capt. Alexander Babington, commander of Company E, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "I have great memories of Spc. Rosema."

Adam J. Rosema was born May 28, 1979. He spent most of his life in Pasadena, though his family moved to Arcadia for several years so he could go to high school there. He was a member of the marching band at Arcadia High, where he graduated in 1998.

According to his father, Rosema's two passions were music and stock car racing.

"He loved to play the drums and the guitar," said his father, a technician at General Motors. "He went to concerts of the Eagles and Van Halen."

He said his son was "a great NASCAR fan. He could tell you about any driver, team or owner. We went to races around the country -- Fontana, Sears Point, Phoenix, Texas International, Daytona.... "

Indeed, Rosema's devotion to stock car racing prompted his father to tell friends that if they wanted to make a donation in his son's memory, it should go to Victory Junction Camp in North Carolina (www.victoryjunction.org), founded by race car driver Kyle Petty in honor of his son who was killed in a car accident. The camp serves children who are ill or disabled.

John Yeressian, 29, who works for the Army Corps of Engineers, said that he had known Rosema for 10 years and that the two had played in a pickup band together. He said Rosema frequently sent him e-mails from Iraq.

"The last time I talked to him was about a week before he was killed," Yeressian said. "He said he was happy. He was going to reenlist. He wanted to make a career out of the military. The proudest moment in his life was when he joined the Army and put on the uniform."

But Yeressian said his friend had initially been "nervous about going to Iraq. He e-mailed us from Texas" before deploying abroad. "He said to keep him in our prayers."

In addition to his father, Rosema is survived by his mother, Laura Stephens; his stepfather, Richard Stephens; a stepbrother, Kenneth Stephens; two stepsisters, Kimberly Stephens and Sheila Rosema; his grandmother, Hendrika Rosema; his stepgrandmother, Joyce Stephens; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

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henry.weinstein@latimes.com

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