War in Iraq hits home

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A U.S. soldier with local ties was recently killed in Iraq.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Sgt. Mario K. DeLeon, 26, was shot and killed while on patrol in Baghdad on April 16.

DeLeon's mother Barbara, who lives in Cloverdale, learned of her son's death at 10 p.m., April 16. It was reported that DeLeon died of enemy small arms fire.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Born in San Francisco, he was the son of the late Mario Juan DeLeon and Barbara DeLeon.

He is survived by his wife Erika and son Mario Keoni DeLeon, California, in addition to brothers Bruce Meyers, Cloverdale, and Gabe Meyers, Dalton, Nev.

DeLeon attended high school in California but graduated from Beech Grove High School near Indianapolis in 1998.

Following graduation, DeLeon enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan. He was honorably discharged in 2002 after his father died.

After spending some time in college, he served two years in the Air Force Reserve in Travis, Calif. In 2006, he reenlisted in the Army and was deployed to Iraq in October.

"It was more for his family financially," Barbara said via telephone interview Wednesday. Barbara added that both she and Mario's father, in addition to his brother, all served in the Air Force.

A native of Hawaii, Barbara moved to Cloverdale four years ago.

DeLeon was honored with a full military service at Pleasant Hills Memorial Park in Sebastopol, Calif.

Putnam County Veterans Affairs representative Will Niebold said to the best of his knowledge, DeLeon is the first soldier to die in the war with ties to Putnam County.

Eighty-five Indiana soldiers have died in the war since in began in 2003.

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