The community of Williams mourns the loss of a local hero who was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday, August 11, 2011. This devastating news brought the community to a standstill, a painful loss that has not been felt since 1968 when U.S. Army Corporal Frank A. Baggett’s helicopter crashed on October 1, during the Vietnam War.
Pfc. Rueben “Boy” Lopez, 27, was one of five others killed by a roadside bomb. Those also who lost their lives included Spec. Jordan M. Morris, 23 of Stillwater, OK; Sgt. Edward J. Frank II, 26 of Yonkers, N.Y.; Sgt. Jameel T. Freeman, 26, of Baltimore, Md.; and Spc. Patrick L. Lay II, 21 of Fletcher, N.C.
Word spread quickly through the use of the social networking website, www.facebook.com where a memorial page was setup in his honor.
He is the son of Gloria and Reuben Lopez. He was also the only boy among four sisters, which earned him the nickname of “Boy” for life.
Friends, family, and locals immediately began remembering Lopez and his brave actions, in the Williams Town Square where it was quickly converted to a memorial spot as Flags, flowers, and balloons filled the park.
Lopez enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 10, 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan seven months later. Lopez wanted to serve his country just like his Grandfather Alex Estrada of Colusa, who served in the Korean War; and his sister Kelly Lopez whom is currently on active duty with the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, in Washington.
Lopez’s awards and decorations include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO Metal, the National Defense Service Metal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medial, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Lopez was scheduled to come home for two weeks in September.
A passionate athlete at Williams High School, Lopez participated in football and baseball. Lopez was also an active volunteer of the Williams Neighborhood Church
Lopez graduated from Williams High School in 2002.
A candle light vigil was held on Sunday, August 14th at 8:00pm where hundreds of friends, family, and citizens attended.
“The reality of war has come home to us,” said Williams Councilmember, John Troughton whom was one of many to speak at the candlelight vigil event, “his sacrifice will not be forgotten.”
“We often take our freedoms for granted,” said Williams City Mayor, Angela Plachek-Fulcher whose only daughter, Lieutenant Amanda Plachek, is also currently serving in the United States Army in Afghanistan. “We sometimes forget the cost.”
The Williams Volunteer Fire Department along with several other departments will escort Lopez’s body from Sacramento to its final resting place in Colusa County. Funeral Services are under the direction of McNary-Moore Funeral Services of Colusa.
Lopez, was also remembered at the August 15th, California State Senate. “Sadly, I must rise today to adjourn in memory of the U.S. Army Specialist Rueben Lopez,” said Senator Doug LaMalfa. “His family speaks so well of him and his devotion to his family and well as we know to his nation.”
“Our prayers and hearts go out to the Lopez Family.” Said LaMalfa.
Lopez, was the second Colusa County soldier who has lost his life in Operation Enduring Freedom; Justin Castillas of Arbuckle was killed July 2009 during combat in Afghanistan.
Editors Note: Heartfelt Sympathy and Prayers go out to the Lopez family and friends. Here at the Williams Pioneer Review we adhere to our moral values and have omitted a family interview to allow the family to grieve during their time of loss. Please see our future publications for a second part in this series called “Remembering Rueben “Boy” Lopez.