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Army Sgt. 1st Class Luis E. Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, Bakersfield; among 4 soldiers killed in attack

August 05, 2007|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

Ever since he was a boy, Luis E. Gutierrez-Rosales wanted to be a soldier.

He would scribble drawings of guns and tanks on his school notebooks and tell anyone who would listen that he would someday serve in the military.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Tepic, Mexico, he immigrated when he was 16 with his mother to Bakersfield.

After Gutierrez-Rosales, known as Kiki to relatives, graduated from Bakersfield High School, he served in the California Conservation Corps and then joined the Army at 21.

Gutierrez-Rosales, 38, was a platoon leader on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

On July 18, he was among four soldiers who were killed when their vehicle was attacked by insurgents using an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire in Adhamiya, east of Baghdad.

A sergeant first class, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany.

"He just wanted to be a soldier," said his mother, Maria Rosales, who lives in Lamont, Calif., a small agricultural community south of Bakersfield.

"I supported him 100%. I never said, 'Don't do this.' Because that was his wish, that was his dream."

An 18-year Army veteran, Gutierrez-Rosales was a voracious reader and would write home wherever he was stationed. The family enjoyed his letters from South Carolina, Alaska, Thailand, Panama and Germany

While in Germany, Gutierrez-Rosales sent his mother a computer so they could e-mail each other, which they did daily.

When he was on leave and visiting family in Lamont, he would go out each morning for a jog, said his sister, Noemi Rosales. His favorite run took him from his mother's house to an oil refinery -- a sign that he'd traveled two miles. He would then turn around and head back.

"He liked to stay in shape and he loved running," his sister said.

But his absolute favorite thing to do when home was eat his mother's chilaquiles, a hearty mixture of tortilla strips, chiles and eggs, for breakfast.

"He always asked me to fix them for him," she said. "I could feed him chilaquiles every morning and he would be the happiest man."

And he liked playing jokes. He loved the Jim Carrey movie "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." During visits home, he would make faces behind his mother's back. When she turned, his face would turn cold serious, prompting his sisters to bust out laughing, his sister said.

"He was always the jokester," she said. "Like when we would take him to the airport, he would be telling us we better not cry. And, if we were going to a party he would get serious and tell us, 'Hey, don't embarrass me.' "

Gutierrez-Rosales was a divorced father who would split his time while on leave to visit his 8-year-old daughter, Amber, in North Carolina.

"She was his life," Noemi Rosales said. "Every time that he came home from R&R [rest and recuperation], he would see us but always spent most of his time with her."

In addition to his daughter, mother and sister Noemi, Gutierrez-Rosales is survived by another sister, Sandra Rosales. Services were held for him Wednesday in Lamont.

His mother said that one of his last e-mail messages typified her son's upbeat character: He told her that although the enemy "was pounding us, we're going to win."

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