Since its inception, each month LHCP has honored a military service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every box which is shipped from LHCP is labeled with information about the Honoree. The monthly Honoree’s story is attached to the box so others can read about those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This month’s Honoree is Navy Hospital Corpsman William Ortega.
Died June 18, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
23, of Miami, Fla.; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died June 18 in Garmsir district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations.
On Friday, Seaman William F. Ortega will return home.
After graduating from South Dade Senior High in 2005, he joined the U.S. Navy in May 2008 and moved to Camp Pendleton in California to train as a corpsman, which is similar to a medic.
“He wanted to deploy. He wanted to serve his country,” said friend Ana Miller, “and he did.”
Ortega died June 18, two days before Father’s Day, after a bomb exploded as he rode in a patrol vehicle “while conducting combat operations against enemy forces,” in Helmand Province, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
At the start of training in California, adjusting to West Coast life was hard for Ortega, Miller said. But Ortega adapted and made friends, including Miller, 21, and her husband, Jeremy, a fellow corpsman.
Still, the 23-year-old longed for home.
“He was telling me that when he came back from his deployment, if he was given the choice of where to go, he was going to choose Miami,” said Miller.
Ortega’s relatives declined to comment, saying it was too difficult.
Ortega was deployed to Afghanistan, attached to the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment, First Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
His battalion, nicknamed the Thundering Third, took full command of the province in May, when he was deployed overseas.
After the bombing, Ortega was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Non Article V Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
On Friday, his remains will be returned to South Florida in a private event for his family at Homestead Air Reserve Base. There will be a funeral Saturday in Kendall, after which his body will be taken to Arlington National Cemetery, where he will be buried July 9, 2010.
He is survived by his parents, William and Marianela Ortega; sisters Karla Ortega, Edna Ortega, Maria Ortega, Aracely Ortega and Evelyn Lopez; brother-in-law Juan Martinez of the U.S. Navy; grandmother Gladys Francisca Gutierrez and grandfather Jose Centeno.