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For the sake of accuracy, I just wanted to point out that PFC Restrepo completed basic training at Fort Sill, O.K. We were in 2nd Plt. Bravo Battery 1/79. He was one of the first men that I met in my Army career. He was Platoon Guide for nearly the whole 9 week cycle. Right away, he was one of few other soldiers, that everyone could look up to. Not just because he was a PT stud, or that he was one of the most squared away soldier's in our platoon. He had a natural-born leaders' character, without being too rigid, or too involved to "stop and smell the roses." He was also very humble, and never passed by someone who needed his help. I remember many times when he would put on hold whatever he was doing, to double check your uniform in the morning while we were all still groggy-eyed, or do some extra PT and motivate you to do better, or just talk about whatever was on your mind, usually thoughts about back home, and how great it's gonna be when we finally graduate. I say all this because I didn't know him for very long at all, but he made a very strong impact on me, and although I can't speak for others, I believe that he made the difference between success and failure for several of us. All that in only 9 short weeks should tell you a great deal about someone. At least it does to me. After we graduated, he and I continued on to AIT at Fort Sam Houston, T.X., along with many others from our BCT battery. Restrepo continued to help fellow soldiers who were struggling with the EMT portion of our course, even to the point of (unfortunately, I believe) sabotaging his own ability to pass the NREMT final exam after six weeks of arduous studying, and repetitious practical exercises. He often attended the extracurricular study hall to assist other soldiers who were having difficulty. I never saw him again after the test. I still regret not being able to walk across that stage with him. I believe he made honor graduate in his next cycle, but I can't verify it. Almost a solid year had gone by since I had been at my first duty station, Fort Wainwright, A.K. when a battle buddy who Restrepo and I had also gone through BCT with, PFC Richard Allen, told me that he had been shot and killed in an ambush while on deployment to Afghanistan. I couldn't believe it. I'm not going to go through all the thoughts and feelings I had after that. Suffice to say, when I heard of his death, it eventually proved to serve as a reminder to me that as human beings, we inevitably, fail. But how we carry on, and persevere, is what defines us as individuals, soldiers, men, women, and people. Restrepo was there for his battle buddies, his team, and his friends. As a fellow soldier, and combat medic, I can think of nothing more respectable, nor honorable, than to fight, live, and die with, and for, those whom you have sworn to preserve, protect, and serve. My name is SPC Alexander J. Costea. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Juan Sebastian Restrepo. Gone, sincerely missed, but never forgotten.
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Oct 26, 2010