Staff Sgt. Richard Vazquez, 28, of Mansfield, died Wednesday when he was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Vazquez died later at an Army hospital, his sister Christine Vazquez said Friday.
The family was en route Friday morning to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet the military transport that's returning Richard Vazquez's body.
Christine Vazquez calls her bother a "local hero" who "laid down his life for his man and country."
"Richard has never met a stranger and is greatly loved by all that knew him. Nothing he did was much short of perfect. He loved life, lived it to the fullest and encouraged all to do the same," she said.
Green Beret Richard Vazquez was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and died in Kandahar of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked with an IED while on dismounted patrol in Panjwai, according to the release from the Department of Defense. He was on this third tour in Afghanistan.
Although he spent his early life in Mansfield, Richard Vazquez graduated in 2003 from Seguin, Texas, High School. His brother Romario Vazquez told a Seguin newspaper both had lived there for several years, but Richard Vazquez made the decision right after high school to make the military his career.
"The online media response my family and I have received has been absolutely amazing. I log on Facebook, and I am met with literally a 100-plus notifications, dozens of friend requests, and profile pictures changed to flags at half mast. I feel truly blessed to know he has been loved by so many people honoring him and praying on our behalf. I know the only way I am getting through heartbreak is because of those prayers," Christine Vazquez said in an email to The Times.
It was Richard Vazquez's wish to be buried in his hometown of Mansfield.