While one family will be in Virginia this week receiving the Navy Cross posthumously awarded their son, another Sag Harbor family will be marking the one year anniversary of the day Orlando Perez was shot dead by a sniper while protecting his comrades in the Stryker Cavalry Regiment stationed in Baghdad.
SPC Orlando A. Perez, whose mother, Nicolasa Arevalo, and sister, Angelica Marta —Â a Junior at Pierson High School —Â moved to Sag Harbor seven years ago, was killed as he climbed to the roof of a building overlooking the narrow streets of Baghdad on February 24 of last year. He had been in Sag Harbor only two weeks earlier on leave, where he spent a week visiting his mother and sister as he had done frequently, then returned home to his native Houston, where he spent a week with his wife before returning to active duty.
“Whenever he had relief from the Army he would come to visit,” said his sister during an interview recently. “We would go to Long Beach and take long walks,” she said.
“I remember taking his picture by the Civil War monument, and also when the Nativity scene was up at Christmas,” she added.
SPC Perez returned to Baghdad on February 18, and his mother remembers getting a call from him the following day, apologizing for the fact he would not be able to call her on her birthday, February 20.
“’I’ll be helping to guard my squad as they move into another building,’” his mother remembered him saying.
As the squad continued to move its headquarters on the morning of February 24, SPC Perez climbed a set of stairs leading up to the roof of a building where he would be able to have a better view of the street, while keeping an eye on the squad below.
As Perez reached the top of the stairs and was stepping onto the roof, his mother related, a shot from a sniper sent him tumbling back down.
He was helicoptered out, but was pronounced dead a short while later.
For his actions, SPC Perez, who was 24 years old when he was killed, has been awarded, posthumously, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Army Commendation. In addition, SPC Perez, who was a member of F Co., 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, received the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
SPC Perez enlisted in the Army on August 25, 2005, and was assigned to D Co., 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment at Ft. Benning, Ga. in January 2006. He served in Germany for one year before being assigned to duty in Iraq in 2007.
In addition to his wife, April, mother and sister, he was survived by a brother, Edward Marta, a 2007 Pierson graduate.