Wilfredo Perez, Jr.
(2003 - Iraq)
Spec. Perez’s last letter from Iraq arrived home the day after his family learned that he'd lost his life in a grenade blast while guarding a children’s hospital.
Written as he crouched in a Humvee, the letter urged Perez’ teenage stepbrother to be sure to finish school.
“You know, if something does happen to me out here and I can't make it home you have to buck up and be the man and take care of everybody, but it all starts with finishing school,” Perez wrote. “If I finished school, I could be sitting behind a desk somewhere, not sitting in a truck in the desert in the middle of Iraq.”
Known as “Junior,” Spec. Perez was selflessly devoted to his family, often caring for ill relatives and taking his grandmother shopping. A native of New York City, Perez as a boy moved to Norwalk to live with his father. At age 13, he marched with the Sea Cadets in the Desert Storm ticker-tape parade in New York City. At 16, he volunteered at the Special Olympics' World Games in New Haven.
His family describes him as a strong leader with a beautiful smile who always tried to make people laugh. He loved clothes and shopping, handball, golf and skiing and riding his motorcycle. His father, Wilfredo Perez Sr., has set up a memorial fund in his name that has donated more than $40,000 in scholarships to graduating high school students in Norwalk.