A U.S. Army soldier from Tucson has died from wounds suffered during an attack in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Thursday.
Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R. Barreras died Tuesday in San Antonio Military Medical Center, officials said. He had suffered wounds earlier this month when his unit was attacked in Herat Province, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.
Barreras was part of a special forces team which rescued Jessica Lynch in 2003, as The Christian Science Monitor reported.
On March 23, 2003, a 19-year-old Army private first class Jessica Lynch, was working as a supply clerk for the 507th Maintenance Company when the convoy she was in was ambushed in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Lynch, who was seriously injured in the crash and hospitalized, was rescued by a nighttime special operation raid by U.S. Army Special Forces, Air Force Pararescue Jumpers , Army Rangers, and Navy SEALS on April 1, along with the remains of eight soldiers.
Intense media interest in her story, initially characterized as the first rescue of an American woman POW, fueled controversy and dispute. While she received military honors including the Bronze Star, Prisoner of War and Purple Heart medals, she later testified before Congress that the Pentagon had “chose to lie and make me a legend.”
The 49-year-old Berreras enlisted and served with the Marines for five years, before joining the Army, and became a member of the 75th Rangers Regiment. When he was wounded, he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division in Fort Bliss, Texas. The 1st Armored Division, also known as "Old Ironsides," dates back to before World War II.
"He could have been sitting behind a desk. Some say that's maybe where he belonged at that age. But no, Barreras was not that kind of guy. He wanted to be right there with his guys," Tuscon News Now quoted the commander of American Legion Post 132, addressing veterans there for their regular meeting.
In a statement, Rep. Ron Barber, D-Tucson, called Barreras a brave member of the United States Army.
"Command Sgt. Maj. Barreras's death is a reminder that although the United States is winding down our combat role in Afghanistan, we still have men and women who are placing themselves in harm's way every day," Barber said. "I thank each one of them, as well as their families, for their service and for their sacrifice."
Barreras is survived by his parents, Ray and Gloria, two brothers, David and Andy, wife Melinda, three children, Calvin, Amice and Victorria, and three grandchildren, Collin, Noah and Claire.