Fallen Lubbock soldier remembered in National Geographic's 'Long

Fallen Lubbock soldier remembered in National Geographic's 'Long Road Home'

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

It is a sacrifice far too many families have endured. A son, daughter, husband or wife killed in action while serving overseas. 

For the Garza's, that sacrifice came on October 4th, 2004 in Sadr City, Iraq. A day later known as Black Sunday.

Israel Garza had been deployed for two weeks when his division, the 1st Calvary, received orders for a peace keeping mission in Sadr where supporters of the militant Muqtada Al-Sadr were staging an uprising. 

"The last time that I talked to him was March 31st which was our three year anniversary," said Lupita Garza, Israel's wife. "He's like, I literally got off the plan, I'm here at base camp. I went to the phones and I just want to tell you happy anniversary. He was like, I'm going to call you Sunday and I said OK and he said I love you and I miss you and then I never got a phone call on Sunday."

That Sunday his patrol was ambushed. Eight soldiers from his division were killed, 51 more were wounded.

"It was about six o'clock that night when I got a phone call from my mom and she said the Killeen police are looking for you. 10 minutes after my mom called me again and said hey, the FRG is looking for you, the contact the Family Readiness Group if anything happens and that's when my heart was like something is wrong. I was like what did they tell you? And she was like no, I don't remember and I was like no mom, you need to tell me word for word what did they tell you? She said something like, Israel is coming home, and I'm like no he can't. He can't come home. The only way he can come home is if he is hurt or if he's dead."

In the following years life has been tough for the Garza's. There has been countless counseling sessions for both Lupita and the kids to help cope with the loss.

"For the most part I've tried to keep it as normal as possible. I gave the boys their dad's guitar so Israel is picking up on the guitar."

She said she does find comfort in knowing that Israel's story will not be forgotten. The National Geographic is honoring those who died on Black Sunday in its eight part series, The Long Road Home

"It's such an honor for this story to live on," she said. "I tell everyone everyday that it's sad, soldiers die everyday and their story dies with them but this is a story that's going to live on forever. Everyone is going to know his story."

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