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    Sgt. Paul T. Nakamura Building Dedication Ceremony

    Sgt. Paul T. Nakamura Building Dedication Ceremony

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Heath Doppke | The 79th Sustainment Support Command dedicated their headquarters building in memory...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Heath Doppke 

    79th Theater Sustainment Command

    LOS ALAMITOS, Calif.— Maj. Gen. Megan P. Tatu, commanding general of the 79th Sustainment Support Command, hosted a ceremony dedicating the 79th Headquarters building to Sgt. Paul T. Nakamura, the first Reserve Soldier killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom, at Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, California, June 21, 2014.

    Nakamura had been rendering aid to a patient in the rear of his ambulance on June 19, 2003, when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade just outside of Bahgdad. The attack killed Nakamura and injured his battle buddy, then-Sgt. Cory Caranza and the patient. Nakamura had been on more than 220 medical evacuation missions and treated 80 individuals during his time in Iraq.

    More than 400 attendees of the dedication included Soldiers, civilians, veterans, family and friends that came to honor Nakamura. Of the 400 attendees, approximately 200 were Nakamura’s family members, including his parents Paul and Yoko Nakamura, who were taken by surprise by the magnitude of the event.

    The event included comments by Tatu, retired Maj. Gen. Robert Ostenberg, Santa Fe Springs city Mayor, Juanita Trujillo, retired Staff Sgt. Cory Caranza, and Nakamura’s parents.

    For Paul and Yoko, speaking about their son, Tokuzo—the family nickname for Sgt. Nakamura—was bittersweet.

    “As long as we live, we have Tokuzo in our hearts,” said Sgt. Nakamura’s father, choking back tears.

    “Sgt. Nakamura, by all accounts, was the embodiment of the Warrior-Citizen that every Army leader hopes to have in their unit,” said Tatu. “Focused, disciplined, both mentally and physically: Always with a smile, always with a positive word, always with a positive attitude, the consummate teammate.”

    Immediately following the ceremony, Tatu escorted Nakamura’s family to the front entrance of the building to unveil a plaque that names the building in Sgt. Nakamura’s honor, and then inside for a tour of the facility.

    The centerpiece of the tour was a permanent memorial display which included many of Nakamura’s personal items including his service uniform, a teddy bear from the 437th Medical Company, a placard of the red cross from his ambulance, and his Combat Medical Badge—Nakamura was the first Reserve Soldier to receive this badge, which until that point had only been awarded to active duty medics.

    His devotion as a medic drew Caranza to Nakamura—they were close friends for two years.

    “I knew Paul for, in the grand scheme of things, such a small amount of time … the impact that he has had on my life since then has been absolutely tremendous,” retired Staff Sgt. Caranza said.

    For Caranza, memories of Nakamura live on in the legacy of Caranza’s children.

    “Here I am, 11 years later, and I find myself looking at my children: my son, named after him, and my daughter, who completely coincidentally was born on his birthday, and I think to myself how those two years have completely and utterly dominated my life in a positive way,” he explained.

    Caranza said that one of the ways he honors Nakamura is by appreciating his life.

    “The last thing I said to him before they took him to the hospital to bring him back here to the states, I said: ‘now I have two lives to live for you, not just mine but yours as well,” he said.

    Caranza explained that while he was consumed with self-pity and sadness after the death of his friend, he had a commitment to uphold.

    “I realized it’s about me fulfilling that promise I made to him back in 2003, and I’m not finished living that life, obviously, for him.”

    And when Nakamura’s parents questioned why they had chosen to dedicate the 79th’s building to their son, Tatu replied, “the answer as to ‘why Paul?’ comes in the words from the Chief of the Army Reserve, Lt. Gen. Talley who stated, ‘…Sgt. Paul Nakamura died a hero on June 19, 2003, but he lived as one for 21 years. We, as Army Reserve Soldiers and Civilians, do not forget our fallen warriors.’ ...and so, Mr. and Mrs. Nakamura, thank you for allowing us to honor your son's character, his commitment to our Nation...his sacrifice, and yours.”



    Date Taken: 06.21.2014
    Date Posted: 07.08.2014 14:34
    Story ID: 135523
    Location: LOS ALAMITOS, CA, US 

    Web Views: 849
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