Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Monday, April 7, 2003
Matas await return of body
after son's death confirmed
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Mon., April 7, 2003 -- Family and friends have been offering their
support to a Pecos family who were told on Friday that their son was one
of seven members of a Fort Bliss maintenance company confirmed dead in Iraq.
"They've had phone calls and have been surrounded by family and friends,
which helps," said Javier Contreras, a spokesman for the Johnny Villareal
The family learned on Friday following DNA testing that the 35-year-old
Mata was one of the seven soldiers reported missing on March 23 in Iraq
whose bodies had been found by U.S. troops in the 10 days following their
Contreras is a cousin of Mata, who was a U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer
and a 1986 Pecos High School graduate. He was a member of the 507th Maintenance
Company that was ambushed in Iraq after making a wrong turn in the desert.
Two others were confirmed dead on March 24 and five others were confirmed
captured after their pictures were shown on Iraqi television.
"Up until last Friday we still had hope," said Contreras, who traveled
with other family members to El Paso this weekend to meet with government
"It's hard, it's something that nobody wants to hear and they're just
trying to cope with it," he said.
Mata's body was flown back to the United States over the weekend, and
Contreras said that officers at Fort Bliss had first told the family that
it might be about three days before his body could be sent home. "But I
spoke to his dad while we were in El Paso and he said they had told him
up that it would be from seven to 10 days before they can bring him home,"
Mata's body is currently at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and
funeral arrangements will be made when the body is released to the family.
"They haven't made any plans yet, we don't know yet when we'll do that,"
said Contreras. "He is in the United States, but we don't know when they'll
let us bring him home and then the family will decide when the funeral will
be," said Contreras.
Eight soldiers were reported missing in action following the March 23
firefight with Iraqi troops. On Tuesday, one of those eight, Army Pfc. Jessica
Lynch, was rescued from an Iraqi hospital.
At the same time reports came in on the rescue of Pvt. Lynch, the Matas
and families of others missing also heard that 11 bodies - at least some
believed to be American - had been found during the rescue. And there was
hope since the military acted quickly to save Lynch, and could do so again.
Lynch, who has undergone spinal surgery since her rescue, had another
surgery Sunday to clean wounds. Her family flew to Germany on Saturday and
has now had a total of three visits with her, said Marie Shaw, a spokeswoman
for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. She is described as
being in good spirits, and she has been eating apple sauce - along with
plenty of fruit juice.
Meanwhile, another 507th Maintenance Company soldier, Sgt. Curtis P.
Campbell waved from his stretcher Sunday as he was hoisted from an Air Force
C-9 jet transport at Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso and carried to a waiting
ambulance that transported him to nearby Beaumont Army Medical Center.
Shortly after his arrival at the military hospital, he had a private
reunion with his wife, Trenesha, and their two children, Jalen Heygood, 8,
and Jada Campbell, 5.
Campbell, 27, an Army supply specialist and native of Brooklyn, N.Y.,
was one of four wounded 507th Maintenance Company soldiers who were rescued
by the Marines after the firefight at the Euphrates River near Nasiriyah
in southern Iraq on March 23. He suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
Along with the nine 507th Maintenance Company soldiers who were killed,
Marines died in attempts to rescue the Fort Bliss soldiers, who fought their
attackers with M-16 rifles. Another U.S. Army soldier from the 3rd Infantry
Division also died in the ambush.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Clean-up crews hit three sites in Keep Pecos Beautiful effort
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Mon., April 7, 2003 -- Seven truckloads of trash were removed from
area streets on Saturday by Pecos' Keep Pecos Beautiful program, during
the annual 'Don't Mess with Texas Trash - Off' campaign.
Coordinator Michael Benavides said that his participants did a good job
considering their numbers.
"I had five volunteers and 10 community service workers," Benavides said.
"The all did a good job. They worked really hard. Councilman (Gerald) Tellez
and his wife and Slim (Bub Ewbank) also helped."
Though he was pleased with Saturday's turnout, Benavides hopes that during
the next Keep Pecos Beautiful clean-up there will be more volunteers.
The group focused three specific areas in town this weekend, which were
the area across from Wal-Mart, the area next to the Pecos Farm Labor housing
on West County Road and the area next to the Pecos Nursing Home off Daggett
"In the future I hope to have a big volunteer turnout because of the
projects I have in mind," Benavides said. "They are projects of cutting
grass and doing peoples yards for free for those who can not do it themselves."
He added that if anyone had old lawn mowers and gas weed eaters that
they would like to donate, they could call Benavides.
"The landfill will hopefully open up at the end of May and we can also
do ally clean ups," said Benavides, referring to the city's new landfill
The next Keep Pecos Beautiful clean-up is scheduled for Saturday, June
21, a week before Night in Old Pecos, Benavides added.
Health Fair attracts over 1,000 to hospital
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Mon., April 7, 2003 -- The Reeves County Health Fair attracted over
1,000 people on Saturday to Reeves County Hospital, to undergo health tests
and get heath-related information as part of the 16th annual event.
"It was a very successful health fair," said Nancy Ontiveros, Reeves
County Hospital Director of Special Programs and one of the organizers of
the fair, which was held for seven hours at sites throughout the hospital.
Ontiveros said that there were a lot of new out of town vendors that
were very impressed with the local health fair.
"They said that they had been to other health fairs and had not received
the kind of response they had here," said Ontiveros.
She said that a total count hasn't been done, but that there were over
1,000 people who attended the weekend event.
"We did more blood work than we have had in so many years," said Ontiveros.
For people who returned "panic values," abnormal blood counts, the results
will be mailed out later this week. "We encourage them to take the results
to their doctor right away," said Ontiveros.
Dr. Russell Subia's booth, which was offering free eye exams and free
cataract and glaucoma screenings, was a really popular booth, according
to Ontiveros, while Dr. Oladele Olusanya was offering a lot of valuable
information, which drew a large crowd to his booth.
"His booth and (Rural Health Clinic physician's assistant Michelle) Cser's
booth were busy at all times," said Ontiveros.
Urinalysis testing was also busy on Saturday, while the booth set up
by Bessie Haynes Elementary was also popular on Saturday. "Everybody wanted
to find out at the Bessie Haynes booth, what they could donate to the soldiers
at war," said Ontiveros. "Everybody also wanted to sign the State Guard
Banner that will be sent to the soldiers this week."
Ontiveros said that individuals had the opportunity to sign the banner
and send special messages to soldiers in the war.
"It was a wonderful event and it's all thanks to the volunteers and exhibitors
at the health fair," she added.
Ontiveros did say that the organizers had received a lot of suggestions
on how to expedite services in many areas, and that they are taking them
into consideration when the group meets to discuss this year's fair and
make plans for next year's event.
"If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on how to improve the health
fair next year, we welcome them, because we want everyone to remember that
this is their health fair," she said.
The pancake breakfast was a big success and fun this year. "They were
serving red pancakes and everyone really enjoyed that," he said.
Lunch was also a popular event, with the menu changing from barbecue
to a choice of hamburgers or hot dogs.
"That was really popular because they had a choice and some had both
a hamburger and hot dog," said Ontiveros. "We had been serving barbecue
for the past 15 years and are considering the same menu from this year for
Smiley Gamboa was a big winner Saturday, during the door prize giveaways.
He won a bicycle. "A lot of the door prizes have already been claimed, but
there are still a few that haven't," said Ontiveros.
Ontiveros said that if anybody is still hanging on to a ticket, to check
the door at the Reeves County Hospital, where the door prize winners would
Plate sale benefit to aid injured boy scheduled Friday
PECOS, Mon., April 7, 2003 -- An enchilada plate sale will be held from
11 a.m. until 3 p.m., Friday at Abundant Life Church, 1201 S. Ash St.
Proceeds will benefit Michael Rodriguez Valenzuela, the four-year-old
son of Esmeralda Rodriguez Valenzuela, a former Pecos native, and Michael
Valenzuela, who was in an accident March 9, and suffered severe head trauma
and underwent emergency brain surgery.
He is still hospitalized at Texas Tech UMC in Lubbock.
He is the grandson of Eva P. Rodriguez and the late Juan Rodriguez of
Pecos and has many aunts and uncles that live in Pecos. He is the nephew
of fallen Task Force Officer Jaime P. Rodriguez.
To place an order on Friday, call 528-6916; 425-1870 or 448-6916.
PECOS, Mon., April 7, 2003 -- High Sunday 78. Low this morning 46. Forecast
for Tonight: Cooler and clear. Lows in the mid 30s. NE winds 10 to 20 mph.
Tues.: Sunny. Highs in the lower 60s. NE winds 15 to 25 Mph. Tues. night:
Clear. Lows in the lower 30s. Wed.: Sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. Thurs.:
Clear. Lows in the upper 30s. Highs in the mid 70s.
Tommy Morales and Manuel Tarin
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise