by Natalie Allen

Rosie Guerra was in the process of teaching a lesson to her Spanish class when she was approached by Principal Melbrech.

“I was in a class when Melbrech came in and said someone needed to talk to me,” Guerra said. “At first I didn’t understand why he had a man with him. Then he told me ‘Perhaps you should get your purse,’ because I probably wouldn’t be coming back.”

The worst-case scenario had yet to cross her mind.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well, you know, I’ve parked in the police parking lot before’,” she joked. “So I asked, ‘Is anything wrong?’. I kinda wasn’t moving. ‘Is it my kids? My husband?’, and Melbrech told me, ‘No, I don’t really think so. Let’s just go see.’”

The three of them walked out of the classroom and into the hall.

“I stopped and asked ‘Is it my son?’, and all he said to me was ‘I hope not’. I saw the two army chaplains, and I knew.”[cincopa AsCASSKOk3_h]

Her fear, the pain all parents hope to never experience, was realized.

“The moment I saw them, I think I just screamed. I screamed and said, ‘No, no.’,” Guerra recalled. “They kept saying ‘Ma’am, ma’am, we’re sorry to tell you that- we’re  so sorry. Yesterday at 8:25 A.M., your son was hit by enemy fire, and the wounds he sustained were fatal.’”

In a whirlwind, she was on the way to receive her son’s remains.

“The plane was delayed in Dallas. There was a lot of rain that week,” Guerra recalls. “I sat by a military captain on the plane. We talked to each other on the plane.”

In time, they realized they had more in common than a flightplan.

“He asked me why I was going. I told him I was going to pick up my son, Diego Montoya,” she said. “He ended up being the man whose duty was to train the soldiers escorting my son off the plane.”

The agonizing wait was further lengthened by a series of delays. Finally, Guerra took a small plane, bearing only herself, the pilot, and the casket, to the funeral site. The landing brought an unexpected sight.

“When I got to my hometown, it was amazing. There were colored cards everywhere. People were lined down the streets,” Guerra said. “The Patriot Guard Riders were there. Kids from school came to watch, and the fire station was there. There was a huge flag. It was really patriotic.”

The sentiment, she says, was a fitting tribute to her son’s sacrifice.

“I just wish the Lord let him peek out of heaven for just one second to see the glory. So bittersweet, so amazing.”

The young soldier was honored by his family, friends, teachers, neighbors, and comrades.

“Three of his boot camp friends traveled 23 hours straight from Ohio to be there,” Guerra recalled. “All of his teachers came: 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade and so on. They were all there.”

With their condolences came poignant memories of Diego Montoya’s life and legacy.

“His 4th grade teacher even brought their time capsule out and showed me the piece of paper where he wrote ‘I want to be an army general’,” Guerra said.

A military career was a lifelong dream for her son.

“Diego was a kid who always wanted to be in the military and serve his country. He was more focused than other kids who, at that certain age, were. He knew what he wanted to do,” she said.

The danger of her son’s profession was a topic that worried Guerra.

“I discussed with him the possibility of death, and he said to me, ‘I don’t care. This is what I signed up for, this is my job, and this is what I’m going to do. The only this is, you’re going to have to deal with it, because now you’re an army mom.’,” she said. “He had a very big heart.”

Diego Montoya was 20 years old and fearless. His comrades and commanding officers praised him for his honor, faith, and uplifting presence as a soldier and a person.

“His commander sent me a letter telling me about how he was always ready to do his best,” Guerra said.

The young man’s upright virtues influenced all around him.

“To his buddies, he was a moral leader. He even asked me for some scripture to pass on. So, he was doing his duty as a Christian too,” said Guerra.

She has the privilege of remembering her son in a more carefree time.

“I remember he would always wear his uniform around the house,” Guerra reminisced. “All of us would be like, ‘Diego, when are you going to take that off?’. I told him one day that I will pray for him to get a job behind a desk in Alaska. I said that I would call the congressman. He would say, ‘You better not, Mom.’”

His willingness to serve was at times beyond her understanding.

“See, I would be a crummy football player, and I would be a crummy soldier,” Guerra said. “I don’t know how they do it. If I was in a football game, and they just started running at me, I know I would just roll over or play dead. With the military, I think of Normandy and the soldier at the front of the line. I would never want to be that first soldier to leave the boat.” Guerra said.

Despite this recent void in her life, Guerra has shown a strength and grace that is nothing short of inspiring.

“God has been my strength. There’s no falling apart,” Guerra said. “I got an email from a support group and I plan on attending  some meetings.”

As the mother of Diego Montoya, Guerra has many reasons to be proud.

“His commander said in these exact words: ‘He is a fine soldier, but an even greater person. I am envious of his upbringing, because it must have been a good one, [considering] the quality and caliber of the person he has become’,” she said. “He had a purpose, and he focused on it.”

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About The Author

I am a senior at Johnson High School and I am one of the Arts & Entertainment editors for our online publication staff. SAIL: AWOLNATION.

14 Responses

  1. Paul Allen

    Awesome article Princess. I’m so proud of you!! You captured every important facet of that story flawlessly. You are an excellent reporter.

    -Dad.

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth Bachle

    This article brought me to tears and is very well written. Great job (:

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth Burkhardt

    Nattie the story whent straight to my heart. Which means you are the sweet caring person you truly are and have the ability to write from the heart. gramme

    Reply
  4. Dr. Burr

    Natalie,
    This article was extremely well written. It’s hard to believe that you’ve written it while you are so young and managed to capture all of the adult emotions involved in a very tangible way. It makes me realize that you are very proud of our soldiers/ sailors/ airmen/ marines.
    As a former editor, it makes me think that you are correct in thinking that journalism is in your future!
    -Dr. Burr.
    (Thank you for sharing, and please let your teacher know that I value her sacrifice, and her son’s dedication.)

    Reply
  5. MeganElizabethYoung

    Natalie, this was beautiful and it brought me to tears. I’m in class researching stuff & the johnson news was the homepage & this caught my attention-and distracted me 🙂 It was beautiful and you are a wonderful writer! All my love, Megan.

    Reply
  6. Katrina Dela Cruz

    Wow, I was scanning over this site, and saw this article I was drawn in by the title, then could not stop reading the article. This is such an amazing and touching story. I feel like I can go to Mrs. Guerra and know not only her, but her son as well. This was absolutely incredible.

    Katrina Dela Cruz – Lee High School, Bugle Call Online Editor

    Reply
  7. justice

    even though i read this article back in january, reading again had the same effect on me. it reaches your heart. half of my family is in the military, and i can only imagine how ms. guerra felt. /: kudos to natalie.

    Reply
  8. CarolRedus

    Natalie,

    I was glancing over the Johnson website as the new school year is approaching. I also love to write. I feel a sense of satisfaction having a reader laugh hysterically or bringing them to tears when they read something I have written. Knowing I have not just relayed the information but the emotion of the topic. I am sitting here at my computer with tears streaming down my face. Well done!!!!!!! Continue to write, pursue your dreams, I’ll continue to look for future articles. You have so much talent at such a young age.

    Reply
  9. Ciarra Graham

    This story touches me very close to heart. My dad is in the Marine Corps so I had grown up always moving around and traveling. He was never deployed overseas, although there were many times when he almost was. I would always think to myself I don’t want him to go, but I knew he had a duty, just like all branches of the Military. The fact Diego Montoya was only 20 years old is very sad but it creates even greater respect for those in service.

    Reply
  10. Ana S.

    My mom used to be in the army and she told me that even though she never really “went into battle”, she enjoyed the feeling of serving her country in some way. My older brother, Christopher, is now in the Air Force and is stationed in Hawaii. He hated the thought of being in the military, but now he enjoys it. I respect those who are in the military and those that have family serving; they’re making a sacrifice.

    Reply
  11. Liz Silva

    I have an uncle in the army.He went to Iraq and was there for about half a year.I would of felt a dagger through my hart if he would’t of come home. This was an inspration,almost like watching a movie.

    Reply
  12. Aldo S.

    No one on this planet is more brave and honorable than the men and women who are on the front lines, they are not the ones who start the wars, yet they are the ones putting their lives on the line, for the hope of keeping our citezens safe and preserving the constitution of this nation.
    No matter what the future holds for humanity, the lives lost will forever be in the hearts of the people they cared for.

    Reply

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