Soldier from Shiloh is killed |
Dies when Humvee hits land mine
BY LISA P. WHITE
SHILOH - A Colombian-born soldier from Shiloh was killed Monday in Afghanistan when his Humvee hit a land mine and came under mortar fire.
Staff Sgt. Edwin H. Dazachacon, 38, was one of four soldiers killed in the attack, announced U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville. Dazachacon was with the Army's 7th Special Forces Group based out of Fort Bragg, N.C.
Costello's son, Jerry Costello II, described Dazachacon as a brother Wednesday. The two met in 1991 when they were paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
"We formed a brotherhood as I think many people do in the military and especially going through combat together," Jerry Costello II said. "What I'll miss the most about him is just his friendship and companionship. We had an understanding of each other that I think only two people who have been through the circumstances of combat and war can understand."
Dazachacon moved from California to Shiloh in 1994 to be close to the Costellos. Costello said Dazachacon, who was not married and didn't have children, was like a second father to his three kids.
He helped Costello coach 12-year-old Jerry III's soccer team and he took Victoria, 11, to church and on shopping excursions. And he was godfather to Georgia Danielle, 7.
"He came and went at all of our houses like he was a member of the family, and he actually was," Costello said.
Costello said Dazachacon led an active lifestyle and enjoyed mountain biking and snow skiing. He was director of fleet operations for Southwestern Bell in St. Louis and joined the National Guard. Dazachacon spoke English, Spanish and Italian, Costello said, so when the Army called him about 18 months ago seeking linguists to aid in the war on terror, he re-enlisted. He had been in Afghanistan for about a month, Costello said.
"Edwin died doing what he wanted to do. He loved his country, his family and our family. He was a dedicated soldier and a great person," Congressman Costello said in a written statement.
The Army public affairs office would not confirm the four soldiers' deaths Wednesday, but military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported on its Web site that Dazachacon's unit was in a mountainous area near Deh Rawod in the southern part of the country when they hit the bomb. Insurgents peppered the soldiers with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire, and air support was called in, the paper reported.
Costello last communicated with Dazachacon Friday via e-mail.
"He was in very good spirits. He realized it was very dangerous, he understood the danger they were in. He was just a great soldier and a brave person," he said. "He was there because he believed in the United States Army and the United States of America."
Costello said a military funeral is scheduled for Feb. 23 at Fort Bragg and services here are being planned.
He is survived by his father, who lives in Colombia, and his mother and two sisters, who live in Diamond Bar, Calif.
Dazachacon is the first soldier from the metro-east to die in Afghanistan. Seven local soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Feb. 16, 2006