Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Army Cpl. Tomas Sotelo, Jr.

20, of Houston, Texas.
Sotelo was traveling in a convoy when a rocket propelled grenade struck his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq. Sotelo was assigned to Headquarters Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Polk, Louisiana. Died on June 27, 2003.

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"My condolences to Tomas Sotelo, Jr. Family and friends. I went to middle school with Tomas at Mc Williams in Acres Homes and we would always hang out during lunch, Tomas, Edgar and myself. I remember him always keeping to himself but always cracking jokes around those who knew him. He would always face fear straight on and never backed down when confronted as some of the other kids would bully others , no one messed with him. I want to give my respects to his family and friends that helped shape and mold him into who he was, who he became and as the man he will always be remembered as. Thank you Tomas for being my friend and for standing up others and even for me. I heard of the news just today when I went to the gym to work out. Another friend we both had recognized me and asked if I went to Mc Williams. Tomas was the first person I asked him about and he told me what happened. I am truly sad to hear what happened to him and I appreciate and will always remember him for the friend he was and his sacrifice for us. Though we lost touch after middle school I remember him till this because he was truly a great friend to me. God bless you Tomas and your family and may he give us the strength to carry on in your memory.


Concepcion Amaya Jr.
Concepcion Amaya of Houston, Tx

"After 11 years that you are not with us I miss you more then ever.
Mi nino adorado"
Benancia Sotelo of Houston Texas

I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacriifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy."
Mike C. of El Paso, Texas

"It's been eight years since you passed away and to this day i haven't forgot you and i dont think i ever will. The day that i found out you passed away was the saddest day of my life. I remember coming from a trip and looking in the mail box and receiving a letter from you. i was so happy i was like mi tomasito wrote me another letter. i fell asleep so happy that night but the next day when i woke up they gave me the bad news that you passed away, i couldnt believe it i had to call Erica to find out if it was true . It brings tears to my eyes remembering that day:( To this day i regret not hugging you and kissing you a little bit longer that day you came to say goodbye. i remember at your funeral a friend telling me jessica you want to go home, i looked at him and said "when he was alive i wanted to spend every moment and second with him so why now wouldnt i want to be here with him " . But i do thank god for allowing me to have met him, he was a great person with a sense of humor that would light up the room

R.i.P tomas"
jessica rodriguez(snowy77029@yahoo.com) of houston, tx

"I remember CPL Sotelo. I was assigned with him at Ft Polk in RHHT, 2d ACR. While I didn't know him well, I did remember him to be an outstanding Soldier. I managed to attend his memorial service at the Main Post Chapel. Hearing Taps being played always bring a tear to my eyes. But hearing Taps played for someone you know made it feel a little more personal. RIP CPL Sotelo."
Robert Jones of Deridder, LA

"I remember Sotelo being a quiet smartass. I mean that in the best possible way too. He was witty, funny, and smart as hell. When other soldiers fell behind in a run, Sotelo was the type to drop back and run with them, offering quiet strength and encouragement. When he saw you at the gym, he smiled and would offer to spot you.

I wish I could remember more, but all I remember is his smile and quiet laugh. To his family I would just say that he is not forgotten. I barely knew Sotelo and I still think about and miss him. I'm sure I'm not the only one."
Josh F of Novi, MI USA

"I wear daily a " hero bracelet " with Cpl. Tomas Sotelo Jr. name inscribed on it. I am proud to wear it. Thank you for you heroic service and I pray we never forget a hero gave his life for all Americans. I proudly answer questions about my bracelet and tell them my heroes name and about his sacrifice. Thank you Tomas."
Brian S. of Zephyrhills , Fl.

"Bebe i cant beleive u have been gone for such a long time you know what they say gone but NEVER FORGOTTEN . Flor your comment just broke me dwn, is true i miss Bebe always craking jokes up. but he sure did live his life he enjoyed every second of it. Bebe i put your photo in my facebook in your loving memory.. i love you and hope your safe wherever u are..
Familia Rivera love u and miss you.."
Lizette Rivera of Houston Texas

"Today is a day of rememberance and I find myself here, online- viewing photos & reading what other friends and family members have to say about Tomas. Today, we honor Him and other fallen soldiers, but every other day of the year we remember Them.
He will never be forgotten.
~Memorial Day 2010"
L. Ruvalcaba of Houston, Tx USA

"Don Bebelon,
I miss you so very much. Every time I think of you I wonder how you are doing wherever you are. How I wish you would have had that child you said you wanted... we would at least have that other than just the memories. Your laughter and your beingness left a deep void. The other day I was reading a letter you sent me from basic and was laughing and crying all at the same time. You had a way with words punk! But I must say, I miss you making fun of me. I miss you cracking jokes and playing pranks and irritating the hell out of me. You would be so proud of Ugly, her baby is now five years old and reminds me so much of you. Mojie now has a month old baby and is very much in love with her. And me, well I'm still here too. I am so proud to be your sister.

I love you now as much as I did before you left. I wish you were still here and we could go on that vacation we always talked about.


5/30/10 If anyone knew my brother and has any pictures of him, or just want to share a story, please contact me at the following email: flor.y.lopez@us.army.mil or fylopez@earthlink.net. Also, if you know how to contact SFC Zollman, please give him my info."

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to the hero’s Mother, Father and/or spouse. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Almost 2,000 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
This is a gift! We have wonderful sponsors who help with the costs, and want you know that we care.
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"I miss you Thomas. I was little at the time but i remeber everything you did for the Padilla family. You are our brother and we miss you alot! Jose and i always talk about you. You will always be in my heart and you will always be my hero. Love you bro"
Miguel Padilla of Houston, TX

"To the Family of CPL Tomas Sotelo Jr.: Every June 27th I say a prayer for Tomas and the others that we lost in Iraq. I served with Tomas during the war and remember how dedicated he was to his craft and more importantly our Platoon, to our family. His death was not in vain as all of the COLT's will remember him and how his death brought us together as a family. Although he was gone; he was still the soul and the strength of our Platoon. Many of us weara tattoo - a drawing that Tomas sketched before the War, and to us that is OUR combat patch. We will never forget his sacrifice and his loyalty and his devotion to us and to his Family in Houston. I have visited his grave several times since we returned and will always strive to visit his grave on June 27th. Tomas was the most dedicated soldier I have ever met and I will not forget his sacrifice and the sacrifice of his family. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Sotelo for giving this world a true Hero.

With all Respect,
SGT Dan Hartley
Arizona National Guard
(Former COLT 3)"
SGT Dan Hartley of Queen Creek, Arizona

"To the family of Tomas Sotelo. Your son's passing is not forgotten, even by people who never got a chance to know him, such as myself. I am also in the Army, am also a 13F, and I am also a Sotelo. I am proud of brave people like your son. I wish that I would have had the chance to serve with him and know him, because he seems like he was a really good man and loved by many. God Bless your family. SFC Sotelo. Email: javier.sotelo@us.army.mil"
Javier Sotelo of Grand Prairie, TX

"I don't think that SFC Zollman ever got over the death of Tomas. I was at Camp Dragoon with all of them and back at Fort Polk after the deployment. I would talk with him occasionally and he would talk about his new soldiers. None of them could ever compare. He tried not to let it show that losing Tomas had shook him badly, but everyone who knew him could tell. MSG Burrus had the worst time dealing with everything. I would run into him and we'd talk about everything. He loved his guys more than anything in this world. Tomas was always a quiet and laid back person. I always admired his easy-going personality. The Army just wasn't the same anymore. My most deepest regrets to his family."
carrie cochran of Kershaw, SC

"To the family of Tomas Sotelo,
On 25 November 2008 at 11:00 AM the 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment and the 2d Cavalry Association will gather in Vilseck, Germany, to commemorate a monument to our fallen brothers from Operation Iraqi Freedom. CPL Tomas Sotelo will be honored on that day. His name will be engraved on the face of a permanent black marble monument along with his fallen comrades. The monument will be located in a park of 50 trees which will form a living memorial to these fine young Soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation.
On that date and at that ceremony we will also honor the families of these Soldiers. We truly hope that the families can participate in the ceremony. It is the wish of the 2d Cavalry Association and the 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment to place a personalized flag case and flag for each of these fallen heroes in the hands of a family member.
We are requesting that these families contact us via email at deddygetty1@comcast.net to learn more about the ceremony and how they can participate.
Toujours Pret!
Dave Gettman
2d Cavalry Association"
"Tacoma Dave" Gettman of Tacoma, WA

"WOW! I can't beleive it's been 5 years... I rememeber taking the pic posted here(in the muscle shirt). It was a month or so before he was deployed. I dearly miss him. Tomas was & will always be an amazing person. My prayers are with his family."

"When we served together, Tomas would help me relax and see the humor in things. He made me laugh at freezing temperatures in Ft. Polk and at melting temperatures in Baghdad. It would have been a lot tougher had he not been there. My life would be a lot less full had I not known him. To Tomas' family: Your son was genuinely, truly an amazing human being. The memories of Sotelo will stay with me forever."
Chris Byers of Nacogdoches, TX

"To the family and friends of CPL Sotelo:
Just wanted to say that I was thinking of Sotelo and can still remember his smile. I was assigned to RHHT 2 ACR with Sotelo, and I can remember how he always came into the COMMO shop with his broken equipment or needing help with it. I thought he was a outstanding soldier who was very humble and always willing to go the extra mile beyond what was required of him. He was quiet but I could get him to talk every once in a while and eventually he asked me for help all the time. The world is one light dimmer without you here to light it up Sotelo. I still think of you and miss you because I know you were destined for great things in the military. Rest in peace friend. I'll NEVER forget you."
Patricia Jones of Meridian, MS

"February 8, 2008
To the family of Cpl. Tomas Sotelo, Jr.:
Tomas 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"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

I would like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy. After reading all the reflections left here for you by your fellow soldiers, family and friends, all I can I say is that I wish that I had the priviledge of serving with you when I was in the Military.

"Tojours Pret"(Always Ready)
2nd ACR Motto"

"Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free.
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took his hand when I heard Him call.
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay that day,
to laugh, to love, to work or play.
Task undone must stay that way.
I found peace at the close of the day.
If my parting left a void,
then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss
Ah, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with time of sorrow.
I wish for you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much
Good friends, good times, a loved one touched.
Perhaps my time seemed all to brief,
but don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and share with me.
God wanted me now, He set me free!""
William Darby Taylor Jr. of Bonita Springs Florida

"To the family of:Tomas Sotelo,Jr. I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all 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 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"To the family of Tomas Sotelo I'm sorry for the lost of your son. I attended middle school with him,M.C Williams and I still remember the day of his graduation which was his 8th grade graduation.I had loved him since I was in six grade and he was in seventh grade, but I've never told him my feelings because I was to shy and I dind't know how he was going to response to those feelings, but later on a very close friend of him told me that he liked me. I never approached him which now I regret because as of right I still love him. and when I found out that he was killed I couldn't believe it so I called his brother and asked him if it was true and he that it was, I felt very bad and started to cry. The last time that I saw tomas was 1 month before he went to Iraq, I was talking to him but as somebody else not the girl that liked him. I told him that if I could see him somewhere because a friend liked him and she wanted a picture of him but it was actually me who wanted that picture, but I guess he knew who was talking to, because he actually went to krogers where I told him that I was going to see him, and I really wanted to tell him how I felt about him but couldn't do it. I always see that picture that he gave me. I LOVE YOU TOMAS I will never forget you. I will always live asking myself "why I din't tell you how much I love you"."
Rosa Lazo of Houston, Tx

"As a fellow Colt who served with Tomas, I would first like to say that this was a huge loss for the world. They say that the good die young, and he was much more than good. He was one of the best. He was an awesome person to know. It was truly an honor to be able to call him a friend. He was one of the most genuine, and respectable people that I have ever had the privilege of knowing and working with.
I want the family to know that I send my deepest condolences. I loved and will always love Tomas. There is never a day that passes that I dont think about him. He was an awesome soldier and an even better man. He will always be in my heart. COLT 6"
Andrew White COLT6 of Jackson,MS

"To The Family,
I want to say that i served with Tomas durring Operation Iraq Freedom. Its been 3 years now and i still think of him and how he always made me feel at ease in that place. He had a dvd player and always asked if i wanted to watch a movie. The memories will always be there. Tomas will always be remembered in my heart as a soldier and friend.

Chris Morris"
SGT Morris of Clarendon, AR

"First of all i want to say that tomas was and will always be a heroe for us and that us his family will never forget all the things we did together and that it been almost 3 years that he left us and we still rermember him and lovem him as much as he dont belive his gone i cant not understand why god do this things and take inocent people and leave here the people who make lots of trouble to houston well i just want to say that i love tomas and that i wiil never forget him,and for my god parents benancia and thomas is that i love them alot and that i'am alway goin to love them with all of my heart.!!!!!!"
Cindy R.D of Houston t.x (713)

"As a former member of the 2nd ACR, I offer my condolences to the family of CPL Sotelo. I now run a foundation devoted to helping the families of fallen cavalrymen. If the family of CPL Sotelo would like to contact me in order to set up a scholarship etc., my e-mail is scott_c_pierce@yahoo.com and our foundation website is www.2nddragoons.org"
Scott C. Pierce of Raleigh, NC

"I would first like to say that my prayers ans condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Tomas, and and all the families that are going through the same thing, and to say thankyou to all those who serve this coutnry. I am also a Sotelo I don't know if we are related some how, but if we are i would like to get know more family. My family is from the Valley, Brownsville Tx. My grandparents were from Las Blancas outside of Matamoros Tamps, Mex. I know I have family in Houston and in McCallen tx. And Reynosa Tamps they are cousins of my dad but i do not know them. We live in Atlanta Georgia. If you somebody thinks we could be related please contact me please at zekesj@hotmail.com and i hope i can meet more family."
Ezequiel Sotelo of Atlanta Georgia USA


"PARA LA FAMILIA DE TOMAS . NUESTRAS MAs sinceras condolencias.de la familia lau . estamos en el mismo dolor . nosotros perdimos a nuestras hija el 2003 su nombre era karina sotelo lau .que dios les de resignacion y estamos con ustedes que dios les de el consuelo .y paz"
familia lau of livingston cal

"Dear Benancia & Family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this Memorial Day. I have not forgotten that Tomas and so many other Fallen Heroes gave all. May you find comfort in knowing that friends and strangers remember Tomas for the sacrifice he gave to his adopted country."
Luci Rivera of Houston

"There has not been a day that I don't think of you and say a prayer for you. I thank you and miss you. I miss the letters and the jokes of course. I still remember all the great times in school. That is all that I have left. Life has not been the same for the people who loved you, we miss you and pray for you. Thank you Tomas! Thank you and We Love You!"
Laura Romero of Houston, Texas

"hi my name is daniel sotelo from weslaco tx im woundering if he was part of my family tree. my father is gilberto sotelo and my brother is david eric sotelo and my grandmother is matilde sotelo, my aunts are diana and nelly sotelo, my uncles are jesse jesus sotelo, cruz sotelo, noe sotelo, raul sotelo, ramon sotelo, jorge sotelo if you have any question please email me at grafcode@yahoo.com please thank you. rip tomas sotelo jr."
daniel sotelo of weslaco tx (usa)

"hi my name is daniel sotelo from weslaco tx im woundering if he was part of my family tree. my father is gilberto sotelo and my brother is david eric sotelo and my grandmother is matilde sotelo, my aunts are diana and nelly sotelo, my uncles are jesse jesus sotelo, cruz sotelo, noe sotelo, raul sotelo, ramon sotelo, jorge sotelo"
daniel sotelo of weslaco tx (usa)

""Hi my name is Nora Diaz(daugther of Felipe Diaz Arellano). It's been 2 years since the last time I saw both of Tomas' parents at the funural and I forgot to tell yall how sorry I was. My dad told me that yall are part of our family, but that yall didn't talk to each other a lot. So one more time I'm sorry.""
Nora Diaz of Houston,Tx.

""I was there the night CPL Sotelo's convoy was attacked. I too was injured in the attack. I was the first to respond to his aid. I wish I could have done more to save him. I think about him all the time. I wish things were different that night. I dont know what story was giving to you by the military. But the story on this site is very inaccurate. I wish to give you closure for you and myself. I strongly belive you deserve the truth. You can contact me at kiko_2700@yahoo.com."
Juan A. Ponce Jr. of Big Wells, TX USA

"Thomas is always goin to be in my heart.and i'll never for get him i'll always remember his face his smile and all of the things we did together.And momy Beni and tio Tomas DON'T be sad and remember he was and will be a hereo.For Ever!!!!!!!!! We will NEVER for get you "Bebe" I MIS YOU"
Cindy Rivera of Houston

"Llo solo quiero decir que Thomas fue un buen hermano y que lo quiero mucho y que lo extrano y que siempre estara en mi mente y en mi corazon."
C.Crystal Rivera D of Houston /Tx/77007

"In Loving Memory..Its been a year..

At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, We remember them.
At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring, We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, We remember them.
At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn, We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends, We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
Rest in Peace Dear Soldier!! We will NEVER FORGET!"
The Grogan Family of Lakeland, TN

"Hello, I am presently sewing the Marine Comfort Quilt in honor of your son. I was visiting this sight to put a face to the name on the quilt. Thank you for your son's willingness to protect our country. He is a hero in the true sense of the word. May the Lord bring you comfort. You are in my prayers."
Jori Hazen of Richmond, TX

"I'm a student at Barker Middle School and I am sorry about your loss of Tomas getting killed in Iraq. When I was younger, I thought I would be in the army when I got older, but that's not what I want to do anymore. But I am still proud of him and what he has done for our country."
7th grade student of Barker Middle School

"I am a 7th grade student at Barker Middle School. I'm sorry about Tomas dying. It must be a terrible loss. He was was only 20 years old. He was helpful to other people and very funny. He sacrificed his life for our country."
7th Grade Student of Barker Middle School

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Tomas, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"Corporal Sotelo, graduate of Reagan High School, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"Thank you Tomas Sotelo, Jr., 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

"There hasn't been a day that I don't think of my little brother. I still can't believe his gone. I miss him so much. The last time I talked to him he said he was okay and told me not to worry. Now our house is so quiet without him. I want to thank everybody for their love and support. I also want to say how proud I am of him. I know that nothing will ever be the same again. But i know he is watching over us and protecting us. Thank You."
Jose Antonio Sotelo of Houston Texas

"What I would like to share with everyone who visit this website is that Tomas Sotelo is an individual who will always remain in our hearts for his service to our country, for the person he was inside, and for bringing the many smiles to all of those who surrounded him. I grew up with his sister, Erica, in the same neighborhood and I have known his family since pre-k. He was like a brother to me...always taking care of us (Erica and me) while at the same time shared a wonderful friendship: the laughs, the comfortness, and the fun times we had together.Tomas had a great personality and let it be known that the great memories he left behind will always be cherished.I respect and admire him for his courage, integrity, and sympathy to others. My prayers go to all who knew him, especially his family whom I love very much!"
Crystal Villarreal of Houston, TX USA

"I worked with Tomas Sotelo, he was a fellow COLT chief with me. He was a wonderful man, someone who you loved being around. He would take the time out of his busy schedule, sit with me and teach me Spanish. He helped me back at Fort Polk all the time when I was in need. He never let anyone down and always remained happy, and cheerful. All of us in COLT miss him very much, and will always keep his family in our prayers. Thank you Tomas, for being a part of my life."
Sgt. Eric Haltom

"Thank you for putting on this website with a really great picture of him...i have quite a few good memories with him when i was little..he was a really great cousin he was one of the best cousins i had, he leaves his two sisters and one brother, and of course his parents , i love my family. I await my brother Pedro Segura army 4th infantry. His whole family waits for him as well as my other cousin Flor. Im sure God wanted a little laugh or a tickle from Thomas Sotelo as he brought Thomas closer to him .....Thomas was very funny. i love him and my whole family.

love.. david Sotelo
well never forget you."
David Sotelo of Houston TX, US

"Thank you so much for posting this website. This is a great picture of him... It really depicts how he truly was... always happy and being silly.
It's always wonderful to see that there are kind people, like yourself, who think of others' feelings and do things like this.
Our entire family is greatful for your thoughtfulness."
Benancia Sotelo of Houston

"To the family and friends of Cpl. Tomas Sotelo, Jr.:
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 Tomas 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 Cpl. Tomas Sotelo, Jr.:
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 Tomas, 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