WORLD / America

Family loses 2 sons in wars
Updated: 2006-07-26 13:46

When Army Pfc. Andrew Velez's older brother was killed in Iraq almost two years ago, the Lubbock man escorted the soldier's body home.

On Tuesday, the Velez family learned Andrew had been killed in Afghanistan.

Roy Velez, the soldiers' father, said military personnel came to his home to notify him that Andrew, 22 and a father of three, had been killed in Afghanistan. They did not provide details of how he died.

Roy Velez said he feels proud of his two sons and holds no anger about losing both of them.

"I'm going to miss him for a long time," he said. "I can't be angry. I feel like my heart's been pulled out. We've done what the Lord allowed us to do for our country."

Army Spc. Jose A. Velez, 23, was killed in November 2004 in Fallujah when his unit came under fire while clearing an insurgent stronghold.

After his brother's death, the military gave Andrew Velez the option of not returning to combat, Roy Velez said. But Andrew Velez told his father he wanted to return to fight, his father said.

"You always do it for your buddy next to you," Roy Velez recalled his younger son saying.

Roy Velez last talked to Andrew on the phone Saturday. His son told him he'd had "six close calls" in Afghanistan, and that he was tired.

He was scheduled to return for 10 days of leave the last week of August.

"He said, 'Daddy, I'll see you in August,"' Roy Velez said.

Andrew Velez's tour was scheduled to end in March.

Andrew Velez joined the Army about five years ago. He graduated in 2002 from Estacado High School in Lubbock. During his school years in Lubbock, he wrestled, played football and basketball and ran track. He also loved playing golf, his father said.

After his death, Jose Velez was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star and a Silver Star. But burglars stole them all from his parents' home in June.

On Monday, the medals were replaced, thanks to the assistance of U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Roy Velez said.

"And today at 12:30 I learned my other son was killed in action," he said.