FORT BRAGG, N.C. (3/12/12) — One of 1st Sgt. Daymond Graves' first memories of Cpl. Miguel Baez was of him smiling, laughing, and joking as he sat at his place of duty, performing guard duty while they were both assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment during the “Surge.”
From right to left Elena Baez, Col. Tim McAteer, Miguel Baez Jr., Ramona Baez and Col. Stephen Sicinski unveil the dedication plaque, Feb. 28, 2012. The dedication of the Baez School Age Services is just one of the many ways that the Army honors its fallen soldiers. Soldiers like Cpl. Miguel A. Baez III may be gone, but they will never be forgotten. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Nancy Lugo
| ||Graves, now the first sergeant for A Company, 1-325th, was one of the many fellow paratroopers, friends and family that attended the dedication of the Baez School Age Services facility, Feb. 28. The building is located on Longstreet at Fort Bragg, N.C. |
People came from all over to attend this ceremony. Adam Johnson drove from central Virginia to attend the dedication. Johnson was Miguel's team leader during his tour in Iraq, and is now a police officer. “There are people that you meet in your life that forever change your life, Miguel was one of them,” said Johnson. Miguel was a guy that could light up the room with his smile and his laughter was contagious, he said. “I have lost many friends in the line of service, but Miguel was the hardest for me,” said Johnson. “Miguel was my brother.”
“Miguel believed in the idea of a Band of Brothers, and he felt that way with his friends,” said Romona Baez, Cpl. Baez's mother, as she tried to hold back the tears of love for her son. “I am proud to be here and be a part of this dedication for my son Miguel.”
“Baez was someone who was devoted to his family, his friends, and his country,” said Capt. Tom Nelson, current student of Chapel Hill University, N.C. and served as the executive officer for C Company. Nelson also added it is only fitting that the Baez School Age Services, a child and youth center, was dedicated to him because of his love for his children.
Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg garrison commander, said the Baez School Age Services is the fourth out of nine such facilities to be completed on Fort Bragg. The Army Family Covenant started in November 2007 and is the program responsible for achieving the child and youth facilities on Fort Bragg.
The centers help to reduce the wait lists for child care and the Baez School Age Services center alone will provide over 190 spots for the children of the community and provide much needed additional childcare on Fort Bragg, said Sicinski.
Miguel Baez's wife, Elena Baez, said that the speech given by Col. Timothy McAteer, brigade commander of the 2/82, at the ceremony was an accurate description of her husband. McAteer spoke of how Baez showed leadership, motivation, personal courage and great drive in everything he did.
“I am still in awe over the dedication of this center to Miguel, my Miguel,” said Elena.
Elena and her five children, Miguel's parents, his brother and sister attended the ceremony. They have been waiting eagerly for this day to come. She can remember receiving the phone call about the dedication and feeling overwhelmed with emotion. Elena said she was extremely honored and proud to be there for the ceremony.
“Miguel was a family man, a great husband and an even better father,” Elena said. She remembered a conversation with Miguel while he was deployed, asking the family to mail him school supplies and candy for the children he would meet on his patrols. He just loved kids.
The Army and Fort Bragg have made a commitment to our Gold Star families and the dedication of the Baez School Age Services is just one of the many ways that the Army honors its fallen soldiers. Paratroopers like Baez may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.
By Army Sgt. Matthew Ryan
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs
Provided through DVIDS
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