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Spokane Army specialist mourned

Alfonso (The Spokesman-Review)
Alfonso (The Spokesman-Review)

Carlo Alfonso died while serving in Iraq

Two days after he would have turned 24, Carlo E. Alfonso was buried Saturday in Spokane as a fallen hero.

The Army specialist was killed and two other soldiers were injured by a roadside bomb Aug. 26 in Sadr City, Iraq, a suburb of Baghdad.

His sacrifice was particularly poignant because Alfonso was not a citizen when he swore to defend the U.S. Constitution, Brig. Gen. Pete Bayer told more than 200 mourners at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Gov. Chris Gregoire’s husband, Mike Gregoire, were among the dignitaries at Alfonso’s funeral.

“He willingly chose to do what many of our citizens do not choose to do,” said Bayer, chief of staff at Fort Lewis, near Tacoma. “In my book, plain and simple, that makes him a hero.”

According to relatives, Alfonso’s two major goals were to be a soldier and to become an American citizen. He will gain his citizenship posthumously.

Alfonso was born in the Philippines and came to Spokane Valley in 1997. He attended Seth Woodard Elementary, Centennial Middle School and West Valley High School.

Alfonso worked for Northern Quest Casino before he joined the Army in 2006 and became a combat engineer. He served briefly as a recruiter at the Spokane Valley Mall before being transferred to Baumholder, Germany, and then to Iraq for a 15-month tour.

Alfonso’s death came exactly eight months after he married his longtime sweetheart, Rosemarie. The couple has a 2-year-old son, Kyle, and Bayer said Alfonso’s comrades reported he often talked to them about being a parent.

Bayer said Alfonso “had an incredible number of pictures of Rosemarie and Kyle taped all around his bunk” and liked to brag about the packages his wife sent him.

Alfonso was “never a complainer” and often was first in line for difficult duty, Bayer said.

The general acknowledged he didn’t know Alfonso personally, but said felt as though he did, “for he was a soldier.”

“Rest in peace, Trooper Alfonso,” Bayer said as Alfonso’s medals – the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Badge – were presented to his family.

In addition to his wife and child, Alfonso is survived by his mother, Florencia Jones; his father, Carlito Alfonso; siblings Deseree and Rodel; stepfather, Lee Davis; and members of his extended family.

At the funeral and later in a formal military burial at Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery, the Rev. Lonnie Mitchell portrayed Alfonso as a soldier at peace. A soldier who liked pot pies.

“In his new home, I believe Carlo Alfonso is eating his pot pies right now,” Mitchell said, prompting chuckles. “Didn’t know they have pot pies up there, did you?”

As Bayer vowed Alfonso would not be forgotten, Mitchell said Alfonso will live forever in the hearts of those who loved him.

Outside the lower South Hill church and at the cemetery, members of the Inland Northwest Patriot Guard formed a cordon of American flags.

A military color guard stood at attention near Alfonso’s grave site while a squad in the distance saluted him with a three-shot volley and a bugler blew taps.

Mitchell told mourners they could have “great certainty” Alfonso was in a place where he “would study war no more.”

“We know that he is also a soldier in the army of the Lord,” Mitchell said.