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Frances M. Vega

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Frances M. Vega
150px
Birth nameFrances Marie Benitez
Born(1983-09-02)September 2, 1983
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedNovember 2, 2003(2003-11-02) (aged 20)
Fallujah, Iraq
Buried
Puerto Rico National Cemetery, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service2001-2003
RankArmy-USA-OR-04b-2015.svg Specialist
Unit151st Adjutant General Postal Detachment 3, 13th COSCOM
Battles/warsIraq War
  • Operation Iraqi Freedom
AwardsBronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart

Frances Marie Vega (September 2, 1983 – November 2, 2003) was a United States Army soldier who became the first female Puerto Rican soldier born in the United States to die in a war zone when a ground-to-air missile fired byinsurgents in Fallujah, Iraq hit the Chinook transport helicopter Vega was in. The post office on Camp Victory North, located in Baghdad, Iraq, was renamed the Frances M. Vega Army Post Office, and the Main Gate at Fort Buchanan Army Base is named the SPC Frances M. Vega gate in her honor.

Early life[edit]

Vega was born in San Francisco on September 2, 1983.[1] Vega's grandfather, father and uncle had served in the US military.[2] After her father retired from the U.S. Army, the family moved and she was raised in Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.[3][1]

Career[edit]

Vega was assigned to the 151st Adjutant General Postal Detachment 3 at Fort Hood, Texas.[3] Vega, an administrative specialist, was deployed to Iraq as part of the war on terror serving in a combat service support role that placed her with front-line soldiers according to 1st Lt. Jenny Pittam, speaking with Stars and Stripes.[4]

Death and legacy[edit]

File:Frances Vega Memorial.JPG
Plaque honoring Vega, during a gate dedication ceremony held at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico

Vega became the first female Puerto Rican soldier born in the United States to die in a war zone when a ground-to-air missile fired by insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq hit the Chinook transport helicopter Vega was in. She was one of 16 soldiers who lost their lives in the crash that followed.[5][3] Vega was buried in the Section L, Row 0, Site 7[6] of the Puerto Rico National Cemetery located in the city of Bayamon, Puerto Rico with full military honors and was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star for bravery and a Purple Heart Medal.[3]

File:El Monumento de la Recordacion.jpg
El Monumento de la Recordación

The post office on Camp Victory North, located in Baghdad, Iraq, was renamed the Frances M. Vega Army Post Office at a dedication ceremony on the Memorial Day in 2004.[7] After the Post Office closed, a sign from the office was moved to the Museum of the Adjutant General's Corps in 2012.[8] The Main Gate at Fort Buchanan Army Base is named the SPC Frances M. Vega gate in her honor.[9] Her name is engraved on El Monumento de la Recordación.[5]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Bronze star
Bronze Star[3]
Purple Heart[3] Army Commendation Medal National Defense Service Medal[10]
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal[10] Iraq Campaign Medal[10] w/ one service star Army Service Ribbon

See also[edit]


Other articles of the topics Biography AND Puerto Rico : Irene M. Zoppi, Jaime Sabater Sr., Rafel Toro, Enrique Romero-Nieves, Humberto Acosta-Rosario, Lizbeth Robles, Efe Rosario

Other articles of the topic Biography : Allison Cook, Benjamin E. Park, Najib Tareque, Janine Jansen Van Vuuren, Everett F. Larson, Frederick Cushing Cross Jr., Brian McKnight

Other articles of the topic Puerto Rico : Ramón Núñez-Juárez, Enrique Romero-Nieves, Puerto Rico Highway 690, Efe Rosario, Manuel Rivera Jr., Rafel Toro, Orlando Fernández
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  • List of Puerto Ricans
  • List of Puerto Rican military personnel
  • Puerto Rican women in the military
  • History of women in Puerto Rico

Reference[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Davis Jr, Command Sgt. Maj. Archie L. (September 30, 2010). "A brief history of Hispanic women in our Army". Fort Hood Sentinel. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  2. Rivera, Carla (2004-06-01). "Picnics, Reenactments Mark Memorial Day". Los Angeles Times. p. 84. Retrieved 2021-02-20 – via Newspapers.com. Lee Ernst, a surgical technician from Los Feliz, remembered her friend, Army Spec. Frances M. Vega, 20, [...]. She wrote her friend’s name on a piece of paper, placed a stargazer lily in front of it and secured them to the cross with a rubber band. Then, she stepped back and offered a prayer. "This is a time of remembrance," she said, not only for Vega, but also her grandfather, father and uncle, who all served their country in uniform. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Griffith, Frank (November 10, 2003). "Puerto Rican soldier killed in Chinook helicopter downing buried with full military honors". Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. Horn, Lisa (May 30, 2004). "Female troops face new dangers in Iraq". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Collins, Shannon (October 14, 2016). "Puerto Ricans Represented Throughout U.S. Military History". DOD News. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 4 February 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. PRNC
  7. Michelle NewBold (2004-06-05). "Iraq post office named after fallen soldier". Temple Daily Telegram. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  8. 1st Theater Sustainment Command (May 31, 2012). "Black Jack Express June 1 Desert Vision Version". U.S. Central Command. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  9. "From the Garrison Commander" (PDF). El Morro Vol. 2 (6). Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Garrison. March 2016. p. 2. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Martinez, Leo. "Frances Vega Memorial".


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