In a town all too familiar with military casualties, the Levittown community has just received news of another fallen soldier.
Pfc. Daniel A. Fuentes. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Pfc. Daniel A. Fuentes, 19, of Levittown, died on April 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, deployed out of Fort Riley, KS. This was Fuentes' first deployment in Iraq.
Fuentes enlisted in the Army in 2005, three months after graduation from Island Trees High School. Social worker Susan Lyons said he would even return for visits to the school when home from the Army on leave.
"In fact, he came to visit just two weeks before he was deployed to Iraq in February," she added. "He was the best of the best; a hardworking, never give up kind of guy. He never had a bad word to say about anybody. He had this smile that lit up a room."
It was also at ITHS that he met his fiancé, Emma McGarry, 20, who is four months pregnant with Fuentes' child. McGarry has a 5-year-old daughter from a previous relationship that Fuentes was planning on adopting.
"He was very devoted to her," Lyons said.
Pamela Hostetter, an administrative assistant at ITHS, said the school held a moment of silence on Tuesday morning after returning from spring break.
"We are also postponing the pep rally originally scheduled for Friday until next week out of respect for the family," she added.
At ITHS Fuentes was a member of the wrestling team.
Damian Garcia, a special education teacher and varsity wrestling coach said Fuentes was "a really great young man to coach."
"He was self-motivated," Garcia added. "He really looked for the best in the team, rather than the best in himself first. He would do anything for his teammates. He was also supportive of anyone around him."
Flags at all schools in the Island Trees School District are being flown at half-staff.
"It's a tough thing," Hostetter said. "He has a brother and some cousins who still attend the high school and we are reaching out to students who we think would need our help."
He is survived by his parents Nancy and Armando Fuentes, and siblings, Julio, 17 and Tatyana, 7. While the date has yet to be set, Fuentes' funeral will be held at Charles J. O'Shea Funeral Home in Wantagh and he will be buried at Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn.