Puerto Rican soldier killed in Chinook helicopter downing buried with full military honors
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Army Spc. Frances M. Vega, one of 16 people killed in the crash of a U.S. transport helicopter in Iraq, was buried Nov. 9 at a ceremony kept private at her family’s request, the military said.
Vega, 20, was buried at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery in suburban Bayamon with full military honors, Army spokesman Jose Pagan said. Vega was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star for bravery and a Purple Heart, Pagan said.
“We feel overwhelmed by her loss but at the same time with pride that she was a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
Vega’s body arrived from Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Nov. 8, Pagan said. The military did not officially notify the media because of the family’s request for privacy, he said.
Vega, one of the few women soldiers killed in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, was born in San Francisco but Army records show her permanent address in Puerto Rico. Her father, a retired soldier, and other relatives live in the U.S. territory.
Vega, who was based at Fort Hood, Texas, was killed with 15 other people near Fallujah, Iraq on Nov. 2 when a ground-to-air missile struck the Chinook helicopter they were riding. The attack wounded more than 20 people.