Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mom Lost Son in Iraq But Added to Family in Las Vegas

Cadets make over home of mother whose soldier son died in Iraq
Las Vegas Review Journal
Keith Rogers
May 14, 2016

“We probably have 25 kids here working to help the family realize we’re going to stay connected with them as long as they want us to."
Marina Vance arrives to see the new landscaping by volunteers done as part of a Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City project on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Vance lost her son in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. (Daniel Clark/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
With shovels, hoes and wheelbarrows, a platoon of teenage cadets launched their assault Saturday as the sun rose over Marina Vance’s Henderson home.

“I wanted to beat the heat,” Sgt. Maj. Robert Brown said as the team of two dozen Army Junior ROTC cadets from Mojave and Valley high schools set out to sweat and “spit cotton,” as one soldier put it.

Stormmie Banegas, 16, of Mojave high, said the sight of the unkept landscape “was really gloomy.”

Fellow cadet Adrian Castellanos, 17, described the scene “as a blackish-gray mess of dried grass.”

Their job: remove tons of that dead grass and dirt from the front yard, and replace it with rock and desert landscaping. Then give the stucco-and-rail fence a makeover with fresh paint. Then focus on the house’s exterior, said Chief Warrant Officer-4 Loyd Crathers, the senior Army instructor at Mojave High School.

The reason: It’s been almost 10 years since Vance’s son, “Nacho” — Spc. Ignacio Ramirez — was killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Ramadi, Iraq.

With Memorial Day approaching, Chere’ Pedersen of Blue Star Mothers of Henderson and Boulder City thought a makeover of the Gold Star mother’s home was long overdue.

Brown, an Iraq War veteran, was on tour when Ramirez was killed. He and Crathers are members of the Nevada Veterans Council where they found out about the Blue Star Mothers’ plan to spruce up Vance’s home.
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