MAY 2003

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Dominican Blood Spilled In Iraq
From El Diario
April 14, 2003
By Jose Acosta

Sadness and mourning have come to the home of a Dominican family, whose son, despite the fact that he is an immigrant that had never applied for citizenship, was killed defending the American flag in Iraq.

Last Saturday, at 12:45 in the afternoon, two army officials rang the Tejadas’ bell to inform them that their son, marine sergeant Riayan A. Tejada, 26, had died in battle.

According to Tejada’s father, Julio Cesar Tejada, the army officials only told them that their son Riayan had “perished in an encounter in a part of Iraq, on the way to Syria.”

Described by his father as a young person who “loved his profession,” Sergeant Riayan A. Tejada, divorced, father of two girls ages 4 and 2, joined the army at 18 years old, after graduating from George Washington high school in Upper Manhattan.

“He liked to study, to practice, and in the army he was an expert sharp shooter,” said Tejada.
Last December, the first Christmas after 10 years of absence, the young sergeant went to his home country, the Dominican Republic. In Santiago, Riayan communicated with his father about his future goals.

“His goals were, for this summer, to ask to be transferred to Virginia to study, and later go to Washington. He wanted to climb in the army in order to get a high rank,” Tejada explained. He added that his wife, Carmen Lora, suffered an athsma attack when she heard about her son’s death.

“We feel destroyed, without the energy to do anything. We have not only lost a son, but a friend, a companion. To his mother he would always say, ‘Mami, go ahead and go to the beach, to the casino.’ He always had us in mind,” said the soldier’s father.

Tejada assured that he had always supported his son’s goals and admitted that he did not feel right about what happened, “because they are using young blood, sending him to a camp where he didn’t know the terrain.”

“It is like saying, if you were to come to my home to look for me, you don’t know by which alleyway you are going to enter and I could be there waiting. One thing is to teach them how to shoot, another thing is to teach them how to walk in the sand, in a territory far away,” he explained.
Tejada said that he was frustrated and confused because the last time he talked with the Marines, in the Upper Manhattan office, they said that his son was in a command post, only directing the battle, and that he wasn’t in danger because he wasn’t going to be on the front lines.

“On Friday night they (the United States Marines) talked to me. But it isn’t like they really explained things to me. My question is: What was he doing at the front of the battle when he wasn’t supposed to be? They said he was only directing a command,” Tejada complained.
Sergeant Tejada died in combat last Saturday at 12:30 at night. His remains will be buried in New York. In a crown of carnations hung on the door of his building, at 102 W 180th Street, it reads,

“We will always remember you.”

Translated from Spanish by Jonathan Charnay

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