Two from Illinois die overseas

September 19, 2008 5:30:28 AM PDT
Two Chicago area soldiers have been killed while serving this country.One, an Illinois National Guardsman from Chicago, was killed in Afghanistan.

Twenty-four-year-old Jason Antonio Vazquez died Wednesday when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb.

Vazquez graduated from Schurz High School in 2002. He was the nephew of a Chicago police officer, and he planned on becoming an officer after completing his tour of duty.

Vazquez was a Cook County correctional officer who was called up for military duty in March. He had been in Afghanistan only a month.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart released a statement saying, "Officer Jason Vazquez was a giving person, as evidenced by his noble service to both the Cook County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Military."

Private First Class Leonard Gulczynski also died this week of injuries from an accident in Iraq.

Gulczynski was from west suburban Carol Stream.

Friends and family gathered Thursday at his parents' Carol Stream home, telling stories and flipping through pictures. The home was filled with patriotic pride as they remember the 19-year-old soldier.

"I got the knock on the door, and reality came to our family yesterday. But I still am very proud of him and all those who serve," said Michael Gulczynski, father.

Relatives say the 19-year-old machine gunner was riding in a Humvee in Baghdad. There was a head-on collision. He was ejected and killed. Gulzynski's military roots go back to his grandfather who served in Korea and his father, who was also in the Army.

"He was living his dream. How many people can say that they were doing that?" said Michael Gulczynski.

"He wanted this so bad," said mom Jackie Gulczynski. "He was going to do what it takes."


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