Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Capt. Orlando A. Bonilla

27, of Killeen, Texas..
Bonilla died in Baghdad, Iraq, in a helicopter accident. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. Died on January 28, 2005.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Army Capt. Orlando A. Bonilla.

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"You are always on my mind friend. You were one person who always accepted me for who I was and you were always such a great friend to me. Im so very thankful that you were a part of my life through my youth. I recently read a post you put in my Nolan Middle School yearbook that I will always hold dear to me....it was those words that I will always remember you my friend..my brother. God Speed!!"
Joey Alsop of Austin Texas

"It has been 10 years since you left us. I miss you so much. I cannot believe that I was only 11 the last time I saw you, and now I am about to graduate from college. I cannot wait to see you again. I love you. ~ Your niece"
Ileana Robles of Oklahoma

"I miss you brother, and hope to walk the golden streets with you someday. I think of you often, now more than ever. I wish you could have met my children. When they're old enough they'll know about daddy's friend. My dad really misses you too bro, we all do.
Keeping you in my prayers"
Joseph Veierstahler of Copperas cove, Texas

"Hello, my name is Sean Bonilla I am from New York. I am 26 years old and I am looking to connect with some of my family members. My branch of the Bonilla family is from Orocovis in Puerto Rico in the even that this message goes to the wrong Bonillas please ignore. In the event that this is is in fact a distant branch of my family I would like to get in contact. Please feel free to email me at Smbonilla12@gmail.com.

Thank you for your time,
Sean"
Sean Bonilla of Queens, NYC, USA

"Two steps forward and three steps back. That is where I am at today. I think of you both daily. Life isn't the same without you. I am the most nostalgic person I know. I long for the past so much that I ache. I can't begin to tell you how much I want our lives back...when you and dad were here, before you both left and never came back...Nothing replaces that."
Love, Tabitha Bonilla of Connecticut

"Dear Tabitha and Family,
It has taken a very long time for me to come to leave a message (I don’t recall ever leaving one – anywhere). Since the beginning of the deployment, the distance grew from the separation of the Garryowen Aviation to Camp Taji. The Aviation Chaplain there was (and still is) a very good friend and I quietly stepped to the side. It appeared that many; many surrounded your family with support. (I noticed how mother and daughter pulled together.)
There is no rhyme; no reason that has ever come to me that satisfies any ‘whys.’ Such hasn’t diminished my faith. Not because of indoctrination – but because I have seen evidences of things unseen; substance of things for which are hoped.
So I find solace in having the honor of knowing you and Orlando. Thank you for allowing a place in your lives for me during those days at Fort Hood, Texas.
Orlando was a calm and joyous presence to all. His confidence never puffed with arrogance; cordial, caring, and fiercely courageous, he loved to fly. He loved you – it was registered in his eyes. Being around him and scratching the surface, one would easily arrive at gold. This wasn’t true only of Orlando, but of you, too.
I still find myself on occasions, thinking of and praying for your family. I pray that your family experiences life as still beautiful – even as have my own.
Sincerely"
William “Chip” Nicholas (Garryowen 28) of Fort Sam Houston

"I was thinking about Orlando tonight, here in Iraq, six years after his death. About to wrap up my second tour, I made it back out to Camp Taji early on this trip and walked into the TOC where I got the news that a good friend had gone. The faces had all changed, and far fewer there now. I walked around the lonely FOB that night and thought of Orlando and took comfort in knowing that he is in Heaven above. I escorted his mother to the unveiling of the memorial with his name etched in black stone there on Cooper Field the year after his death. A fellow cadet, a room mate, a brother in arms whom I'm glad to have known and proud to have served with. He was a truely wonderful human being and an inspiration. Thank you Orlando."
Warrior3A of Iraq

"Just wanted to stop by and say I love you brother I miss you,but we're doing alright...for the first time I can actually say we are all in a better place...and alot of that is because of your guidance 2011...6yrs now and I swear it doesn't get any easier,I wish you was here to see how much we've all grown as people,Thank You for your continuous guidance...I love You Orlando"
Andre L.Erwin of Killeen/Las Vegas

"2011 NEVER FORGOTTEN. We will always have you in our thoughts and in our hearts Orlando."
Marie Mantanona Milton of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

"We remember your son, our friend, our honorable fellow American,...we miss and love you Orlando. Soaring above, always aiming high, God bless your loved ones and the legacy of your love and kindness here. Never forgotten."
marie mantanona-milton of Florida

"The night we lost you and CJ was devastating. My thoughts go to your family. We miss ya."
Rich Litle CW4/R (Warrior 1) of Fort Hood, TX

"Orlando, you are sorely missed brother. I can't believe it has been 5 years already. I'll never forget that fateful night; but more importantly I'll never forget the impact you had on so many of our Soldier's lives. You had the uncanny ability to brighten up a room with your quick smile and great singing voice. My life is better having known you and you will never be forgotten."
MAJ Glen R. Hees (Bounty Hunter 6) of Colorado Springs, CO

"It's been a few years since I last wrote on this site,..and I want to say again that Orlando Bonilla still lives in our hearts. Thank you Orlando for your bravery,..for your honor. Infinitely honored, and never forgotten."
marie mantanona-milton of classmate--EHS

"god bless you Orlando..."
Angela Sanchez of washington, dc

"1/24/09 As of lately ive thought alot abouy my ig Brother/Mentor Orlando Bonilla.I think about how how things have changed but all remained the same.I want to say that I miss and Love the Bonilla Family and Hopefully we can all get together again and celebrate the Life of Our Beloved Orlando"
Andre Erwin of Killeen Tx

"TO ARE THE FALLEN HEROS, I AM SO SORRY THAT THIS HAD TO HAPPEN TO THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE SO MUCH. MY GRANDPA THAT FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR 2 ASKED IF I THOUGHT THAT WHEN YOU TAKE PEOPLES LIVES IN WAR IF YOU GO TO HEAVEN, I DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING AT THE TIME, BUT NOW I KNOW YOU DO, WHEN EVER YOU ARE FIGHTING ANY TYPE OF TERROR AND EVIL IN THE WORLD THAT WANTS TO CONTROL AND ELIMINATE ANY RACE FOR ANY REASON, THE NATIONS HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO GO TO WAR. I WISH NOW I COULD HAVE SAID YES YOU ARE ALL FORGIVEN AND YES YOU WILL HAVE PEACE AND COMFORT, NO PAIN NO TEARS AND ALL THINGS SHALL COME TO PASS SO I PRAY FOR ALL THAT HAVE DIED AND ALL THAT LIVE SO FORGIVE YOUR SELVES AND LET THE SIN FALL ON ONES THAT BROUGHT IT TO THIS POINT.SO I THANK ALL OF OUR HERO. FOR THE FREEDOM WE ALL TAKE FOR GRANTE. SO WHEN WE FLY THE THE FLAG WE SHOULD THINK OF ALL OUR WAR HEROS IN THE PAST AND NOW. SO I PRAY TO FOR YOUR SON AND MY THE OTHERS COME HOME SOON, LIND"
linda of IOWA, POLK

"My prayers go out to the Bonilla family. Thanks, Orlando, for keeping my family safe."
Kraut2 USMC 64-70 of Mena, Arkansas USA

"To everyone who was ever blessed enough to meet or know Orlando. I had the great pleasure of knowing Orlando for a number of years, and you always knew that he was destined for great things. Every one of us can remember what a calming smile he gave when and wherever he saw you. No one left Orlando during his time on earth here without feeling lifted somehow. That life was just a little better after talking to him. He has moved on to greater things, as hard as that is for us here to accept. Just remember that in Christ, there are no "goodbyes", we'll all see him again. Blessings to your house and your friends Orlando, till we sit and talk again Bro."
a proud brother of Austin TX

"to Tabitha & the Bonilla Family, It is hard to think that over three years have now passed. I remember him so well taking me under his wing for four years in ROTC at UT. From my freshman and sophomore years when he was an intimidating sophomore and junior to our time when he was the BC and I ran the ranger program - he was always sincere, easy going, and fun to be around. I think about him often and bear a cross ... sadly not the only one ... tatoo'd on my shoulder in honor of his sacrifice. He will certainly never be forgoten. Air Cav is a better branch for having him and those half his character serve in it. God Bless."
Cpt Ric Haeussler of Ft Jackson, SC

"April 27, 2008
To the family of Capt. Orlando A. Bonilla:
Orlando gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"DEAR TIBITHA

YOU DON'T KNOW ME BUT I AM RELATED TO YOUR COUSIN NANCY IN N.C. I AM HER MOTHER IN LAW. I BELONG TO A PRAYER SHAWL MINISTRY AND WE ARE REACHING OUT TO FAMILIES OF FALLEN HEROES. OUR LIST IS LONG FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND BUT HOPEFULLY WE WILL BE ABLE TO FULL FILL THE NEED TO COMFORT YOU AND MANY OTHERS. GOD BLESS YOU AND COMFORT YOU."
MARY BOSSIE of WATERBURY CT. 06705

"To the family of CPT Bonilla: It's been a couple of years since CPT Bonilla was taken away. There's not a day that goes by that he cross' my mind. He was a great man and a excellent leader. I remember the day I last saw of him. He was full of laughter, because I wasn't paying attention where I was walking. I walked into a concrete barrier. He was a man of the lord who didn't deserve his untimely fall. I will treasure my memories of him and I am proud to say I served with a real hero. My prayers go out to him and your family."
SGT Andrew Hernandez of LSA Anaconda, Iraq

"To Tabitha and the Bonilla Family,
I didn't exactly "know" Orlando very well, but I did go to middle and high school with him. The one thing I remember about him was the fact that he was in JROTC. When I first heard news that he had passed away in a helo crash, I was devistated...even though I didn't know him well, it was the fact that I KNEW him, as in physically seen him...grew up amongst the same peers...and it really hit home. I, too, and an American Solder stationed at Fort Hood. I arrived back from Iraq in early January 2005, just weeks before I heard of this tragedy from my cousin, who graduated in his class and knew him well. Although he is gone from this world, he is waiting for you in glory to take your place by his side. May God bless you and your family.

I'd like to share this poem with you. Upon deployment, I've given this poem to every single spouse in my section and it gives them a sense of strength to be stronger than what they really are spiritually and emotionally.
***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
God was creating a model for military wives and was into his sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared.

She said, "Lord, you seem to be having alot of trouble with this one. What's the matter with the standard model?"

The Lord replied, "Have you seen the specs on this order? She has to be completely independent, possess the qualities of both father and mother, be a perfect hostess to four or forty with an hour's notice, run on black coffee, handle every emergency imaginable without a manual, be able to carry on cheerfully, even if she's pregnant and has the flu, and she must be willing to move ten times in 17 years. And, oh yes, shes must have six pairs of hands."

The angel shook her head. "Six pairs of hands? No way!"

The Lord continued, "Don't worry, we shall make other military wives to help her. And we will give her an unusually strong heart so it can swell with pride in her husband's achievements, sustain the pain of separations, beat soundly when it's over-worked and tired, and be large enough to say 'I understand,' when she does not, and say ' I love you,' regardless."

The angel circled the model of the military wife, looked at it closely and sighed, "It looks fine, but it's too soft."

"She might look soft," replied the Lord, "but she has the strength of a lion. You would not believe what she can endure."

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the Lord's creation. "There's a leak," she announced. "Something is wrong with the construction. I am not surprised it cracked. You are trying to put too much into this model."

The Lord appeared offended at the angel's lack of confidence. "What you see is not a leak," He said. "It's a tear."

"A tear? What is it there for?" asked the angel.

The Lord replied, "It's for the joy, sadness, pain, disappointment, loneliness, pride, and dedication to all the values she and her husband hold dear."

"You're a genius!" exclaimed the angel.

The Lord looked puzzled and replied, "I didn't put it there.""
Elizabeth Miller (Torres), SSG, US Army of Fort Hood, Texas

"I have a picture hanging on my wall of Gabe Wolfe holding a flag out of a Kiowa that Orlando was piloting. I never knew Orlando but Gabe has told us what an amazing man he was. I know this is a little late, but I haven't forgotten about him. He is a true American hero."
Mary Wingfield of Phoenix, Arizona USA

"After Iraq many soldiers of 1/7 cav departed to different duty stations around the world. We will not forget a man that made such an impact on the lives of all the 1/7 soldiers. Ft Wainwright AK and all the former 1/7 soldiers will say a prayer on that unforgetful day."
Sgt Clark, Brandyn J of Ft Wainwright AK

"To Tabitha and the Bonilla family,

I had the honor and the privleage to serve with Orlando during OIF II. It will be a period in my life that I will never forget. Currently I'm once again deployed to Taji Iraq and I can't help it but think about the times he and I shared while we were here in 04-05. I will always consider Orlando as a timeless friend and brother. He was a man with so much spirit and energy, there was no holding him down. I pray for Tabitha and the rest of Orlando's family and friends daily. I Pray that God gives them comfort and healing. I will always be thankful for knowing Orlando. His memory will never fade.. He is and always will be...."NEVER FORGOTTEN"."
SGT Rickert, Angelo V. of Camp Taji, IRAQ

"HEY DEAR CUZ,
I DO NOT NO WHERE TO START, I HAVE MISSED OUT ON ALOT OF YOUR LIFE. I STILL CAN'T BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE GONE. WHEN I HEAR THE PHONE RING I PRAY THAT IT'S YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE. I'M MAD AT MY SELF BECAUSE I WAS NOT ABLE TO SEE YOU, TO GIVE A TRUE COUSIN TO COUSIN LOVE, HUGH, KISS OR NEVER TELL YOU HOW MUCH I TRUELY LOVE YOU. I MISS U SO MUCH. I TALK ABOUT YOU ALL THE TIME TO MY FIENDS AND MY CHILDREN. I WILL LET MY CHILDREN KNOW ABOUT THE BEST HEROE IN THIS WORLD AND THATS YOU. I WILL TEACH THEM TO BE STRONG AND NEVER GIVE UP THERE DREAMS, DO WHAT IS RIGHT AND KEEP THERE HEAD UP HIGH LIKE YOU. I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU. WE WILL MET AGAIN AND MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME. GOD BLESS YOU AND R.I.P

TO MY FAMILY I LOVE YOU ALL VERY MUCH AND I DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT ON ANY MORE OF OUR LIFES TOGETHER."
FROM YOUR DEAR CUZ WEIDA HENDERSON of BOSTON/WALTHAM M.A.

"HEY DEAR CUZ,
I DO NOT NO WHERE TO START, I HAVE MISSED OUT ON ALOT OF YOUR LIKE. STILL CAN'T BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE GONE. WHEN I HEAR THE PHONE RING I PRAY THAT IT'S YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE. I MAD AT MY SELF BECAUSE I WAS NOT ABOUT TO SEE YOU TO GIVE A TRUE COUSIN TO COUSIN LOVE, HUGH, KISS OR NEVER TELL YOU HOW MUCH I TRUELY LOVE YOU. I MISS U SO MUCH. I TALK ABOUT YOU ALL THE TIME TO MY FIENDS AND MY CHILDREN. I WILL LET MY CHILDREN KNOW ABOUT THE BEST HEROE IN THIS WORLD AND THAT YOU. I WILL TEACH THEM TO BE STRONG AND NEVER GIVE UP THERE DREAMS, DO WHAT IS RIGHT AND KEEP THERE HEAD UP HIGH LIKE YOU. I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU. WE WILL MET AGAIN AND MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME. GOD BLESS YOU AND R.I.P

TO MY FAMILY I LOVE YOU ALL VERY MUCH AND I DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT ON ANY MORE OF OUR LIFES TOGETHER."
FROM YOUR DEAR CUZ WEIDA HENDERSON of BOSTON/WALTHAM M.A.

"Dear Tabitha and the Bonilla family,

I had the extreme pleasure of knowing Orlando from 8th grade at Nolan Middle School, all the way through high school at Ellison. He was a super guy. When I heard about his death, I literally sobbed. I was so sorry that I was unable to attend his funeral, but it was actually the same day that my nephew Christian was born. Each time I look at him, I remember Orlando and think about how he was a great friend and a great Christian. I did not get to see him after high school because we went our seperate ways, but I had looked forward to our class reuinion and being able to see him again. It seems funny to look back on it now, but when we were younger I always had a school girl crush on him...afterwards we became good friends through choir and other school organizations. It seems so hard to believe that he is gone. My thoughts and prayers still go out to his family and wife Tabitha. He is a true American Hero, just like I always knew he would be. I hope that you all remember that he is watching over you and waiting on you in heaven, and I know he is probably saying "wish you were here, wish you could see this place." He is at peace and watching over you all along side his Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. God bless your family and Godspeed."
Sandy Manczak EHS class of 1995 of Austin, TX

"My name is Angel Yambo,just happen to look for my family anywhere in the world,I am originaly from Aguada,P.R. served for 9 years in the Army and read the story of Orlando A.Bonilla and my heart reaches out to him and his family. Que Dios los bendiga."
Angel of St. Marys, Kansas U.S.A.

"I knew Orlando back in Ellison High school ROTC. His kindness and warm smile always touched those around him. I will always remember Orlando for who he was and dedicated soldier he became. My heart goes out to the Bonilla family, Orlando left too early, but I know he is looking down on all of you with that warm smile he always gave."
Jasmine Cruz-Nairn of Troy, Texas

"Dear Brother,
I still remember the last day we were together. Xavi, you and me were singing along to Creed's "Arms Wide Open". We were having so much fun that we invited mom and dad to join us. Xavi and I were playing the guitar while you were sing the song. I still remember that moment like if it was yesterday. You were singing like angel. I remember mom smiling at you and saying that you have a beautifull voice, a voice of an angel.. I only wish that moment would never end. Even to this day, I am still waiting for that moment to occure again, so that way we can be together, and sing along to the song one more time. But for now, I'll keep that memory in my mind until the day that we met again. And when the day comes, I will go towards you with my arms wide open and give you the biggest hug that I was never able to give you. I love you Orlando, and I miss you alot. My regards to Tabitha, the Bacon's, and my family Bonilla's. I love you all."
SGT Giancarlo Yambo of Bayamon, PR

"My dearest Sweetheart Orlando I will never forget the way I found out how you were never coming home like you said u would. Now i sit and wonder if only I would have not stayed so late in the library that night I would have never missed your call and i could have heard your voice one last time. I remember when we were in elem. school u sang pretty brown eyes and you and your brothers would walk us home and then when we went to middle school and then high school u never ever gave up on your dreams and u gave your last breath tring to make our world abetter one thats all u ever wanted to do. I love u and miss u I really feel for u sweet Tabitha I'm sorry I never met u but I know he loved u. Love your friend
Trisha M. Ojeda and My sister Tracey Ojeda send there love to all his brothers and sister and parents Take care god bless!!! fanzyface77@yahoo.com"
Trisha Ojeda of Houston, TX

"Orlando, I miss you so very much. I wrote this poem a while back trying to express my emotions, but there are no words that can express exactly what I feel. I love you my dear brother.

Although you may not be here physically
You are still a son to your mother
Your spirit will linger on for eternity
You will forever be our brother

Our lives will never be the same
You knew us all so very well
In loving you there was no shame
And in our hearts you’ll always dwell

Someone like you, there is no other
On you we always could depend
You were a great and awesome brother
More than just pals, you were a friend

We all can have our messed up moments
But even then, we can’t complain
Cause you were simply a great brother
We knew you loved us all the same

No matter how our lives we treated
On your strong shoulders we could cry
You’d always lend a hand when needed
Cause you were just one loving guy

In this world’s eyes, you were successful
Reached many goals until the end
But most important, and not regretful
You made the Lord your one best friend

Of all the things you were to us
What stands out most is just this one
I am so glad you met our Lord Jesus
Professed your faith to everyone

It gives me comfort in just knowing
Your spirit and soul lives on forever
From heaven’s gate you’ll watch us growing
As we go on through life’s endeavors

So go on living my dear brother
Inside our hearts and with our Lord
Enjoy the presence of our Father
We’ll meet again at heaven’s door"
Your sister, Martita of Oklahoma

"My sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the Bonilla Family...
I was blessed to know Orlando in High School. He rose though the ranks in JROTC and became the Batallion Commander of our unit. Orlando always exemplified kindness,grace, and leadership to everyone around him. Some people have the uncanny ability to demonstrate excellence at all times. He was a walking example of what it truly meant to be a leader. Anyone who ever saw him or got the chance to know him could see that he was destined for greatness. He touched the lives of so many, his life's work and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.
I exend my sincere condolences to the Bonilla family and pray that you find peace and solace in your hearts, as you will see your angel again."
Melody Benbow Frederick of Cape Coral, Florida, USA

"To the Bonilla family,
I knew Orlando and Jose in high school. Orlando never passed you without a warm smile or greeting. I only remember seeing him for a brief moment since high school, but talking with him I knew he was the same warm and caring person. The loss of Orlando saddens me, and words can't express what you must be feeling; but know that Orlando is looking over you; he is now your guardian angel and will always be alive in your hearts.

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers

nursteph@yahoo"
Stephanie Allala of San Antonio, TX

"To the family of Orlando A. Bonilla
I have known Orlando since we were in 10th grade at Ellison High School (JROTC). From the day I met him I knew he would do great things with his life. Although it hurts that he is gone, I am glad that I had the chance to see him in Iraq. When I heard the news it was so hard to believe because I had just saw him the night before. I hadn't seen him but one other time prior to that day, we ran into each other while I was stationed at Ft. Hood. It was something about just knowing he was out there and the chance of running into him again was there. I know that one day I will run into him again."
Anthony Bowen of Kaiserslautern, Germany

"Capt. Orlando Bonilla my nephew my Godson, wonderful son, brother, loving husband and a special human being and friend. A young man who made big accomplishments at such a young age, a gentlemen with little details and big surprises, with high expectations in life and a heart full of love and kindness. It has been almost 9 months since your departure and until today I was not able to seat down and write you this message with a clear thinking and still my eyes full of tears. You will always be remembered by all the ones who really loved you, you touched our lives in a very special way. You are our heroe our soldier who gave your life for all of us. You know I was always proud for having you as my nephew and Godson and will always love you. Orlando we will meet again when the time comes and I will be able to hug you and kiss you one more time, to give you my blessing as you always called me "madrina" and will sherish the joy of heaven next to our loving God. To your wife Tabitha Bonilla and family, Orlando is no longer here in this earth, but remember he left behind so many good memories and precious moments that will help us heal the big emptiness we now feel in our hearts. God Bless our soldiers."
Elvia M. Bonilla of Dallas, Tx

"Dear Orlando
I really miss you. If you want to know how I am doing in school? I am doing good. You would be proud of me. I am doing better every day. Also I want you to know that I am showing everybody about your amazing life. I even told them that you were a pilot of a Kiowa helicopter. I told them about the stingers too. What I want to say is that I really miss you! Also that I really love you and care about you.

P.S. I really had a great time with you. I hope to see you again.

From your nephew Archie F. Walters-Bonilla"
Archie Francisco Walters-Bonilla of Killeen, Texas/USA

"CAPT ORLANDO A. BONILLA, I miss you my little brother. My brother's keeper. I think of all the memories of all the things we've done and the things we never got to do. Sadness drowns my heart. I remember the fragile little boy I protected and the strong man you became. You are a special being in my life. You were always there for me lending an ear to listen. That to me always was what I loved the most. Your heart of gold their is none like, your spirit of humbleness one of a kind, your passion for life, your love for others defines you. An ANGEL I know you are. And I'll speak to you still today. I'm proud of you my little brother. You're a true "AMERICAN HERO". I love you Orlandito Tomatito. Always your big brother Ruben.

USMC/TANG SGT BONILLA-SANTIAGO, JOSE R."
Jose R. Bonilla-Santiago of Killeen, Texas/USA

"To the family of: Orlando A. Bonilla I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully, we will meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor, Rev. John Pearrell, Gateway Community Church, 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ,"
Polly Ballew of Covington, Ga

"dear tabitha and the bonilla family,
i attended nolan middle school and ellison high with orlando. he was only kind and very good hearted all those years. i was in chamber singers with him and enjoyed his company at many school/choir functions. he was always a positive presence and a sincere friend. though i never saw him again after graduation, being so kind and good a person, i never forgot him. when mr. surface, our choir director when we attended ellison, heard about this tragedy, he left quick to see about orlando that very second. i say this to reemphasize the impact orlando had on his teachers and peers. he really was a great person to have known. i went to visit my step father's grave in killeen and saw orlando's tombstone. though i know he's in our hearts, it was hard to believe that my friend from all those years was taken so early, so quick, so young. i am so happy that you and your family believe in Christ, in God, in heaven, in eternal life. looking over at orlando's grave, i never felt like he left my life. i felt as if he was still smiling, looking down from heaven, saying see you later. we shared laughs and shared a friendship. my heart sincerely goes out to you,and i pray you heal and keep strong. my sister, tina, and i knew him and only remember him as a good person that we wished were still here. but we know he is in a better place. God bless you tabitha, God bless you tito. God bless you mr and mrs bonilla. God bless all your families. i'll always remember orlando in early morning chambers singers rehearsal, in the halls of ellison high, at the jrotc and choir functions, in everything. he will never be forgotton in the heart of this classmate and friend. i will always remember orlando bonilla."
marie mantanona(mymchsam@yahoo.com) of shreveport, la

"Hi Tabitha my name is Monique Humphreys and i used to be your next door neighbor in Fort Hood, Texas. I had a younger sister named Naomi. My heart goes out to you and i hope that you are doing okay. Your husband was a very brave man, and people like him make this country so great. My email address is MoniqueJhump2222@aol.com. I hope that you are okay and i want you to know that you are in my prayers"
Monique Humphreys of Orlando, FLorida

"Tabitha,
I guess I'm still in shock over it all. I loved and will always love the spirit of CPT Bonilla. He will always be remembered by me as one of the most down to earth people, but is now in Heaven. My highest military award (MSM)
was written by him, and I often called him my son, but yet I worked for him. May God keep you and comfort you always. Thanks for sharing your husband with us all."
SFC Eric N. Thompson of Savannah, GA

"flesh and blood may vanish but the courage will not be forgotten to the hearts of many... peace brothers"
julius bonilla of manila philippines

"Orlando, no one can ever replace such a wonderful brother like you. I'll always remember our talks and treasure your big bear hugs that made me feel so safe, secure, and loved. When I was at my lowest you were there for me and gave me nothing but love, and for that I'll always be thankful. I love you and I can't wait to see you again on that special day when we reunite at heaven's gate.

I just want to thank all those who have taken the time to write and express their love and prayers. God bless you all and enjoy your loved ones while they're here, because in a blink of an eye they are gone and one is left with a void that only the Lord can fill.

Thank you Lord for blessing me with a wonderful family and for having blessed me with Orlando for the short time that he was here."
Marta of Oklahoma

"Tabitha,
I was one of his roomates at UT. I served just out of highschool before coming to college. I am fortunate to have known such a fine man and soldier. May God be with you his parents and brother."
Chris Allen of Amarillo, Tx.

"My Dearest Tabitha,
We love you completely and unconditionally. I look forward to many years of great friendship. Orlando was a blessing in our lives too. Charles loved him and said that Orlando was a great leader, the kind of officer that the Army needed. We loved him too. He was kind, dedicated, responsible and a lot of fun.
Your friend always,
Deborah"
Deborah Jones of Ft Hood Tx USA

"Tabitha

Thank you for your strength and dedication to Orlando's soldiers during this tough time we all had to face. Being in his last unit, I am glad to say that I am honored to have known your husband. He was a person who, no matter what, could bring a positive light and a smile to whomever he interacted with. God bless you and your family. May the angels lead him in."
RemyAnthony of Ft. Hood, TX

"Orlando,
My dear sweet angel, who has left this place...
A beautiful spirit with amazing grace...
A heart bigger than Texas, the state in which you had pride...
You left us behind you, we don't want to say goodbye...
Character, Integrity, there is many values you possessed to list...
But above it all you filled our lives with bliss...
You set the bar, for yourself, always so high...
You obtained so much in the blink of an eye...
A hero of heroes, you remain in our hearts...
With love and compassion that will never depart..
Thank you for blessing my life along with the many you touched...
Dear sweet angel, I wish you hadn't left this world in a rush...
But you are so very special, so beyond what this place could offer...
I will meet you again, my love, in the house of our father.

I love you always and forever, Your wife, Tabitha Bonilla

Thank you to all that have left messages of and for Orlando...He was a blessing to us all. He and my father (SFC Henry Bacon, killed in Iraq, Feb 20, 2004) loved each other so much...I couldn't have prayed for a better son/father-in-law relationship. I know my dad was thrilled to meet Orlando at the gates of heaven, just how thrilled I imagine I will be to see them when I arrive (I can only imagine). It hurts so bad to have lost two of the most beautiful people in my life...the same way... I pray for all our troops and their families. Thank you all for your sacrifices. God bless you all and God Speed. Should anyone like to contact me with a story of Orlando, My father, or their own soldier...I can be reached at tdbonilla@yahoo.com, Or maybe just to talk. Thank you all so much for your kindness and sympathies.
Mrs. Orlando Bonilla (Tabitha)

Daddy and Orlando... I thank God for every rememberance of you."
Tabitha of Fayetteville, NC

"To the Bonilla Family: I am very sad on this day as I have discovered this horrible news. I had the honor of knowing Orlando as a fellow cadet at the University of Texas. Due to complications in my own life at the time, I did not complete the ROTC program, however, during my time as a cadet, Orlando was one of my best friends. He and I worked a part-time job together and also had a history class together. My favorite memory of Orlando is when he stayed awake all night to help me study for history finals. We BARELY made it to the exam the next morning, but, he ended up getting an A and I managed somehow to get a B - thanks to him! I am very saddened by your loss.....Yet it makes me so proud to read all of the great things everyone has written about him. He was like a brother and I am so proud to learn that he went on to do great things, became an inspirational leader, and touched so many people's lives. I am deploying to Iraq later this year. He will be remembered - In loving memory and in our prayers, forever."
Chad A. Ortiz of Rock Island, Illinois

"Tabitha,

I know you remember me and my wife Coleda. We I came to your brother in laws for a long bible study. Orlando was not only the best platoon leader that I have had in my military career, but he was also my friend. He was inspiring to me and is one of the reason why I became a lieutenant. I admired his leadership style, his loyalty, his integrity, and his compassion for his soldiers. Personally, I admired him for his love of God and his dedication to his family. I have nothing but good memories of Orlando and I am extremely saddened by his lost. I had looked so forward to us being able to talk again. But, as everyone has reminded you he has gone home to the Father. Tabitha, I can't possibly imagine what you are going through, but know this that you have the prayers of friends from very near and far. Keep God in your life as he can help you to get through this hardest time. Also, pray for the soldiers who remain in danger or who has yet to enter or re-enter the danger zones. I am leaving for Iraq later this fall so keep me in your prayers. Again, I am sorry for your loss of your father and your husband (my friend). My heart is aching because I know that the bond we shared is not broken. Take care Tabitha. In Christian Love. Gerome and Coleda Washington"
Uriel Gerome Washington, 1LT, USA of Fort Campbell, KY/USA

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN HEAVEN!!! WE ARE SO PROUD TO HAVE KNOWN YOU FOR THE SHORT TIME WE DID, WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU AND THE SACRIFICE YOU MADE, WE ARE HONORED THAT YOU WERE A PART OF OUR FAMILY.........."
BETTY MONROE of NORTHCAROLINA

"To Tabitha:
Orlando was a great guy. He was very strong in personality and physically. I was a former classmate of his. I knew him through middleschool into highschool. He was a lot cockier then. He was a great person however and always did the right thing. I can remember him bieng in Jr.ROTC. I can still see him walking the halls at Ellison. Take pride in the fact that he died doing something he loved. His life touched more people than we can possibily know.There will never be another like him.
To the Bonilla family:

Orlando has gone home to be with the father. It is sad to see that he left you, but he left with all his dignity.
A great son and brother was he. He has been called to serve the almighty. He wants us to cry tears of joy. For he is happy up there in Jesus's arms. Knowing that he will no longer ever come to harm. So we must keep our heads up and know that we will see him again... My condolences and prayers are with you Father,Mother,Jose,Tito,and the rest of your family as a friend........"
Ssgt. Paul L. Patterson USAF of SJAFB, NC, USA

"MY DEEPEST REGRET AND SORROW FOR THE LOSS OF YOUR BROTHER. JOSE."
JOHN BROOKS of JEDDAH, SAUDIA ARABIA

"TO THE BONILLA FAMILY AND TABITHA,
JUST REMEMBER THAT HE IS LOOKING DOWN AND TAKING CARE OF EACH AND EVERYONE ONE OF YOU ALL. HE WAS A VERY KIND HEARTED PERSON AND ALWAYS HAD A FRIENDLY SMILE THAT I ALWAYS REMEMBERED WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL WITH HIM. ORLANDO WAS LIKE THE GUY THAT EVERYONE LOOKED UP TO.. HE WAS LIKE MY BROTHER THAT I NEVER HAD. I KNOW HOW YOU ALL ARE FEELING BECAUSE I LOST A COUSIN IN IRAQ IN JAN OF 04 OF THE SAME ACCIDENT. BUT JUST REMEMBER THAT HE IS WAITING FOR ALL OF YOU IN HEAVEN. JUST KNOW HE IS IN GOD'S HANDS AND NEVER TO BE AFRAID TO DIE. HE IS OUR HERO! WE LOVE YOU! MY CONDOLENCES GOES OUT TO THE WHOLE FAMILY."
MELANIE RODRIGUEZ of NEW YORK

"To Orlando's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your hero's bravery and sacrifice as we mourn the loss of yet another of Texas' sons.

Sincerely,

Gloria Caldas
Proud Mother of Fallen Hero
Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas
"The Big Ern"
82nd Airborne, KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
San Antonio, Texas
gcaldas48@aol.com"

"ORLANDO I WILL MISS YOU MY FRIEND, I WILL NEVER FORGET THE GOOD TIMES THROUGH FLIGHT SCHOOL. GODSPEED MY BROTHER TILL WE MEET AGAIN."
Jerome V Guerrero of FORT RUCKER, AL

"To the Bonilla family from the Wahl family. We are deeply sadden by your lost of Orlando. An our heart and prays are with him and your entire family. We lost our son back in may of 2004. My heart cry's out for all our fallen. Still its the elite individual as Orlando that I'm very grateful for. He is a true AMERICAN HERO!... That was willing to risk his live for our country. An to make the world free of terroriam. An all Americans should be thankful to Orlando and our troops. I will always have Orlando in my heart and prays. God Bless!"
leonard wahl of Valley Stream NY

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Orlando Bonilla. I lost my son on January 26, 2005 in Iraq due to a helicopter accident. Those that have laid down their lives are the true heroes. May God bless you and comfort you during this time."
Helen Gilbert of Dayton, Ohio

"We Will NEVER FORGET !"
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Orlando, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"Tabitha,

Our hearts bleed for you and the loss of your loving husband, Orlando. One could see the adoration for you in his eyes during your wedding and in the times we saw you together afterward. I saw the loyalty and concern for you and your family when you lost your father in the same theatre less than a year before he left. He is a wonderful man and the type to walk thru fire for his family. Please know that has not changed and he and your father are both waiting patiently for you to come "home." Don't be in a hurry as I am sure Orlando would still want you to have a full and loving life before you two are joined again. He was a blessing to you and everyone who knew him for the short time he was here. He is a true Hero and all wives, mothers, fathers, and brothers should dream they could have such in their lives.

All Our Love,"
Mary and James Gregory of Killeen, TX

"Thank you Orlando Bonilla, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Capt. Orlando Bonilla:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Orlando for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Capt. Orlando Bonilla:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Orlando, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on