Born July 30, 1978, Omar Demetrio Flores always knew he would join the US military. His interest in artillery, tanks, and everything armed forces thrived within him since childhood and through his high school years in JROTC.

Upon graduation, Flores was 17, and eager to become what he had dreamed of all his life – a United States soldier.

His training began in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and was later stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas where he and his wife welcomed their first child – a daughter, and later a son. For six years, the small family of four made Ft. Hood their home before a big move overseas to Germany.

The family transitioned to the foreign country where Flores received orders of his first tour to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Flores was the kind of son, brother, and husband who (from anywhere in the world) found ways to stay connected with his loved ones. Often calling his mother back home, and consistently keeping his family informed of his missions and travels.

He served a year in Iraq and planned on returning back home to the Rio Grande Valley at the end of his tour. His plans, however, were interrupted when he received orders of second tour back to the Iraq war.

Six months into his second year, Flores was given a 2-week leave, which he spent back in the valley and back home with the rest of his family, his parents, brothers and younger sister.

“I remember feeling so happy having him back for those 2 weeks,” said sister, Sonia Flores. “My mom made him all his favorite meals, everyone spoiled him as much as we could, we had BBQs all the time – we just missed him so much since we hadn’t seen him for years,” she added.

At the end of the two weeks, and at his departure from the airport, “ … he was standing holding hands with his wife and a stranger,” sister Sonia recalls. “My brother told us that the man he was with was a pastor that had asked him for permission to pray for him and his family.”

A week later, the Flores family received the terrible news of SSG Omar Flores’ passing.

“Our entire family was devastated (to say the least) but a few weeks after my brother’s death, I felt the urge to search for the pastor from the airport,” continued Sonia. “ When I found him, he told me that that day, he felt something inside him telling him to go up to my brother, and to pray for him. He said he had seen God in my brother’s eyes.”

Army Staff Sergeant, Omar D. Flores perished on July 8, 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his mine protected vehicle during combat operations in Ramidi, Iraq.

He was assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade, and Warner Barracks, based out of Bamberg, Germany and bravely served in the United States Army from 1996-2006.

SSG Flores’ heroic duty entailed clearing roads of mines in his Humvee for Marines; sacrificing his life – first, for the protection of others. That day, he and three of his soldier brothers paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

2015 would have marked SSG Omar D. Flores’ 20 years of service to our country, and his departure from the Army. Family and friends say his wish upon retirement was to return to his native, La Joya High School, and become a JROTC instructor – instilling in others his same love for America.

This year, on Veteran’s Day, La Joya ISD renamed the La Joya High School JROTC building in Staff Sergeant Omar D. Flores’ memory. In a beautiful and emotional outdoor ceremony (in front of the JROTC building), his daughter addressed guests saying, “my father died doing what he loved, and it is an honor for our family to have this building named after him.”

La Joya ISD is privileged to memorialize SSG Omar Demetrio Flores for his courage, commitment, and sacrifice to our nation.