A painful reminder still clicks off the time that Sgt. Marcos Antonio Gorra had left in Afghanistan: 9 months, 16 days….the seconds, minutes and hours still turning for an Army paratrooper from North Bergen who died Sunday — two weeks after his 22nd birthday — while serving his country in Afghanistan.
At an age when many of his classmates would just be getting out of college, the 5-foot-9-inch soldier — who graduated from North Bergen High School in 2006 — is having his body returned for a burial with honors.
“Thank you for serving our country and being a great soldier,” Vanessa Echeverria wrote on Gorra’s MySpace page. “I know you are in a better place now. RIP Marcos.”
Gorra served on a pathfinder team with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg, N.C. He’d been in Afghanistan only since last April.
Born in Santiago de Cuba, the oldest of three children, Gorra became an Army infantryman in August 2006 and soon after was stationed in South Korea for a full year.
His family was everything to him, he wrote. That includes his parents, Gricel and Marcos Gorra, whom he called his heroes.
“I sometimes do regret [his first years in the service] because I’ve missed out on … being with my loved ones,” who he said “were always there.”
Gorra also carried a heavy heart, having left behind the only girl he’d ever loved, their relationship ending as he was preparing to deploy.
Gorra, however, he was determined to be the best at what he did.
“Freedom doesn’t come without a cost,” he wrote.
Back home, the news hit hard.
“why man! I was gonna show you times square man and we were gunna hit up union city when we both got back,” wrote Miguel Campos. “I couldn’t even say good-bye….”
During his service, Gorra received the Army Achievement Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Parachute Badge and the Air Assault Badge, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.