Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

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

Army Sgt. Ariel Rico

25, of El Paso, Texas.
Rico died of injuries sustained during an enemy mortar attack in Mosul, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Died on November 28, 2003.

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"To all who read this message,
Know this oh American citizen, SGT Rico was and always will be a hero of the first order. Although he could have avoided going to Iraq, He did not. He came from Korea and a year away from his family to join his former unit in Iraq. SGT Rico did all he could to keep up morale in Cobra Battery 3-320th FA. He was always the funny man who had a joke to lift your spirits when times were rough. No one will ever be able to replace him. He is another young man who went home to God too soon! When it comes to describing Arty, I am at a loss for words, he was alot of different things. A father, a husband, a friend, an awesome soldier and leader! I wish he were still here with us today. We are all poorer for his loss. To his wife and daughter, I wish only the best. I know this epitath is a long time in coming,but it took a long time to put Arty into words. He will be missed always! The Bible says "no greater love hath man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" Arty did. He will not be forgotten. I miss him everyday. He is a hero of the first echelon. All americans should thank their lucky stars that men like Ariel Rico are willing to do the things that need to be done to assure the freedom of the masses! Volens Et Potens! (Willing and Able!)"
E.C.Holcomb of Ft. Campbell, Ky

"To the family of:Ariel Rico 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 my good old friend. though the last time we saw each other was when we worked together in walgreens, you where always there in my thoughts and with your family, your wifey and much luve from the sarinana family, i salute you brother"
SSG jorge sarinana of kileen texas ft hood

"to my good old friend. though the last time we saw each other was when we worked together in walgreens, you where always there in my thoughts and with your family, your wifey and much luve from the sarinana family, i salute you brother"
sgt jorge sarinana of kileen texas ft hood

"SGT Rico,

Rest in Peace, brother. It will always be an honor to count you as a comrade. I am better for having known you."
Frank Maschhoff of Murfreesboro, TN

"Hey Rico,
I stil look back to the first couple of days when I first arrived to the battery. I remember when you used to give me a hard time as a private. Then after the years when you came to Mosul and saw me as a SGT you told me it was all good, that you only did it to make me stronger. This is how I remember you, as a strong man and one of my greatest mentors.I owe a lot of my growing up to you. I miss you man!"
SGT SALCEDO (supply daddy) of Miami, FL

"I was there in MOSUL setting up for a Convoy with my fellow soldiers from the 101st G2 Operations Section. I knew him and had broken bread with him several times outside the Puzzle Palace in MOSUL. I am also from TEXAS and we shared some common ground. Several of the G2 soldiers assisted that day. I will always remember some of his last words as he was leaving us. He spoke calmly and said " Oh really, is that where we are going" He was then being loaded on the stretcher to the Aid Station. I hope to meet with his family in El Paso someday. daniel.ryan@us.army.mil"
SSG Ryan, Daniel A. of Colorado Springs , CO

"I never realized that there was a memorial established online for Ariel. I served with Ariel in Iraq, and I was able to get to know the man, not the soldier, I learned about his wife and children, I learned that he planned on returning to Texas, and possibly becoming a police officer, another heroic profession. I spent many nights siting up late, playing cards, and discussing our loved ones back in the states. I left Charlie Battery at DMAIN on the morning of November 28, 2003 for a flight, home, and amazingly enough, I would have been next to him that afternoon, doing what we did everyday. I wear a bracelet around my right arm, one that pays tribute to the fallen heroes, men like him. I hope his family and friends read these messages from time to time, because I want all of you to know how important he was, he was a true friend, a great soldier, an honest man, and most importantly, a terrific father, who loved his family very much. As the 2nd year of this loss comes upon us, lets look up at the clouds and tell him we miss him, and think about him everyday, I know those 2 things I do everyday."
D. Blaylock of Ft. Campbell

"Hey brother, well i never thought i would get to leave some last words to you. We have had alot of great times together and i want to thank you for the great memories. I think of them everytime i put on your I.D. bracelet. Sfc Tolliver always said "If you break bread together you stay together". I know we'll meet up again and talk of the good old days just like old times. Thanks for all the good laughs. You always made a bad moment a little brighter. Im glad i had the pleasure of serving with you in Kosovo and in Iraq. You were always there and I guess always will be in a sense. I will always remember you and tell my son stories of us when he is old enough. Dont worry about your family, there doing good. I will never forget you brother. May god bless you with all his love and you can finally find some peace!"
Shawn Smith ( Sgt. Smith FDC C btry 3/320 FA. KOSOVO/IRAQ) of Columbus,Oh area

"Sgt. Rico you will never be forgotten by the brothers who fought and soldiered with you. It is because of people like you who gave the last full measure that I can raise my newborn daughther to enjoy the freedoms of this great country. I know you can hear me, when I say thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for the great memories you gave us in Charlie Battery, WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

Charlie Rock, Time on Target!"
Sgt. Lawrence of Ft. Campbell, KY

"(my cousin) Sgt. Rico: He always made you laugh when you were not in a good mood . He will always be remembered in his family's hearts and we will all miss him."
Brianna A Pedroza of California

"I will always remember Rico's laughter that rolled from one end of the gunline to the other as he made fun of Mankind (Burkette) and others in his good natured way. I want to remember him that way always."
Becker of Still at Campbell

"My thoughts & prayers go out to your family through this very tough time of the year.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I can't help but have pictures of your family in my head from that horrible day after Thanksgiving that I knocked on their door in a Class A uniform.
I may be the last person you would ever want to talk to after giving you the tragic news about Ariel's death, but if there was ever anything I could do for you, please let me know. buddybartels@msn.com"
Buddy Bartels (Formerly Captain Bartels, US Army) of Clarksville, TN

"Well, I didnt personally know Sgt. Rico but a good friend of mine that knew him well used to always talk about him being a very fun person. I had the privilege to see him when he arrived in Talafaar, Iraq. I shook his hand cause I knew that was my friend's buddy. He struck me to be a great person; wish I would have had a chance to enjoy his friendship. A few weeks later, when I heard about his loss, I cried my eyes out. And still today Nov. 19, 04, Im out of the Army looking over the people I knew at Operation Iraqi Freedom and I still cry my eyes out remembering the Great friends that we lost in the war. But as a great song says, "Remember the Fallen, they're not forgotten", they were the heroes, who stood so tall, and FOREVER, we will REMEMBER, with HONOR AND GLORY, they gave their all. Sgt. Rico; you are greatly missed; and alot of us feel proud to have shared THE BATTLEFIELD WITH YOU, May God be with your family, We'll meet again someday; under the Tree of Life""
Robert Velez of Charlotte, NC

"My son and I never knew - never met Sgt. Ariel Rico. However in a small town of Westerville, OH a helicopter landed as a memorial image for the thoughts and memories of fallen soliders and those currently serving. I have never felt so good about a public school than I did when I realized that this took place. I am the father of the 8th grader, Travis, at the time. Travis was given a small slice of paper with Sgt. Ariel Rico's photo, name, age, unit and hometown - this was then attached to an American Flag in which my son waved in memory as the Blackhawk landed on the school's ground. I am looking at this slice of paper that represents a wonderful man as this site explains - we will always have it. My son has prayed that day and following days for Ariel's soul to be at peace. I wanted to let others know - that there are many like me and my son, my other son and wife, out there that do recognize and thank God and Jesus daily for these brave men and women. RIP - and know that even in cold - little Westerville, OH there are friends. Travis and Mitch."
Travis and Mitch of Westerville, OH

"I had the honor of serving with SGT. Rico from the time he got to the 3/320th through Kosovo, and untill I left the Army. He was a great Soldier, Husband, Father, and a great person in general. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. You will always be remembered, in our hearts."
Ryan Whatley of Shreveport, La

"Rico was a very funny man who had high spirits. He loved to joke around. He is also a great loving father who loved his wife and kid. A true soldier who cares for others and kept people feeling good when the times were down. Rico I will miss you a lot and I will never forget about you. I always tell my soldiers about you and what you did. Take care my friend."
SGT Clark, Robert of Fort Hood, TX

"Rico...what can I say man? From kosovo to korea we did it all together. you were an outstanding soldier, friend, and most importantly a great family man. i'll miss the laughs we had and all the good times. you were like a brother to me, and i'm glad i had a chance to know you, and serve with you."
Sgt. Jim Natiello of Fort Bragg

"Rico you will not be forgotten i will always remember you and the way we parted with smiles and joy.To his wife: keep your head up and just remember the good man he was and always will be.He is not gone he just waits for you and the baby to meet up with him later.Peace be with you and may God allow that joy in our hearts to never fade the love of this man.This Air Assault soldier.We love you brother."Spc.Caraballo,Kristopher of The Bronx,N.Y

"I had the priveldge of knowing Sgt. Rico both in garrison and in Kosovo. I most recently saw him in Iraq where we met with a great smile and a handshake...going over old memories. I heard about his tragic end while in the hospital at Walter Reed and it shook me. A wish for the best to his family and a tear for the loss of a smile I always got from him.

SSG Brian McGough of Ft Campbell, KY

"Sergeant Rico, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"I was his mentor for a few months when he came to 101st as a pvt. He worked with us forward observers at first. I have to say he was the best soldier I have ever had and we hated to see him leave us for gunline. I work as a scientists for the Air Force now and far from Iraq, but I am wearing a bracelelet with his name on it. Thanks Ariel. It was an honor to serve with you."
Saffar Arjmandi of Dayton, Ohio

"I was attached to the 101st for 9 months and was at Dmain when Ariel died. I don't profess to have known him but I know I saw him in the chow hall, gym or elsewhere and can't picture him. A photo would allow me to know who he was and remember his sacrifice. His loss is felt by all of us who served."
MAJ Bill Kirsch of Edgewater Park, NJ

"A great man, soldier, husband and father has left us alone in this world. For me, Rico will always be in my mind and my heart. He will truly be missed. For those who missed the opportunity to know him, know that he was the best of the best. I knew SGT Rico for a long time. We were in Fort Campbell, Kosovo and Korea together. I still remember the great times we had. Not a day goes by since that dark day he was killed that I do not think of him with a smile and a tear. His memories will live in all of his friends know as "RICO'S RUFFNECKS" Rest in Peace My Friend. GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN"
SFC Jonathan Brown of Fort Campbell, KY

"No one, and I mean no one, can describe in words how Rico affected everyone around him. He made me better. He made a lot of people's lives better. I feel honored to know him past, and always will remember him present and future. Have that TOT ready for me in the sky Rico, and we'll always buy you a round down here. "Rico's Ruffnecks""
SSG Michael McMurdy of FT Campbell, KY

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

"To the family of Sgt. Rico,
I knew Sgt Rico as a Sgt and one of my best friends. He was a wonderful man and loved his family very much. I want to express how sorry I am for your loss. He will never be forgotten. I salute you Sgt. Rico. Rest in peace buddy."
Pfc Gill of Fort Campbell, Ky

"To the family and friends of Ariel Rico:
I have worked by his side as part of the C BTRY 3/320 FA. The time I,ve served, I,ve known him as a man with the heart of a warrior that was ready to step up and take care of his fellow comrads. I feel as if I lost a brother because to me, the soliders of C 3/320FA were my extended family. My condolences go out all his family and friends."
Cedric A. Johnson of Hartford, CT

"Sgt. Rico:
Thank your for giving yourself so that those of us at home can live freely and safely. There are not enough 'thank yous' for a gift such as this. Rest in peace soldier."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"I had the honor of serving with SGT Rico in the 101st ABN DIV a few years ago. I never met a better and honest soldier, one who was firmly dedicated to his life and his family. This world is a far less better place now that he is gone. To the Rico family, I humbly give my prayers for you and Ariel. May the grace of our Lord comfort you and hold you."
SSG Nathan T. Starns of Hattiesburg, MS

"Thank you Ariel Rico, 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

"May SGT Ariel Rico Rest in Peace. I had the pleasure of serving with SGT Rico for 18 months in C/3-320 FA. He was an outstanding soldier and artilleryman. The Army and our Nation have lost a fine young man, husband and father. My thoughts and prayers will be with his family during their time of grief. I will not forget SGT Rico."CPT Casey M. Randall of Baghdad, Iraq

"To the family and friends of Sgt. Ariel Rico:
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 Ariel 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 Sgt. Ariel Rico:
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 Ariel, 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