Caldwell family mourns as soldier’s body returns to Idaho

kterhune@idahostatesman.comAugust 21, 2013 

— Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard said Wednesday’s gathering for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Octavio Herrera was the largest he’d seen at a transfer ceremony — when a soldier’s remains are returned to his family.

Octavio’s wife, parents, brothers and sister were joined at Gowen Field by a large throng of mourners.

The 26-year-old from Caldwell was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan Aug. 11. Older brother Miguel said that dealing with Octavio’s death was a struggle for his family.

“We lost a great man, a great husband, a great brother, a great son,” Miguel said. “We’re trying to be strong.”

Octavio’s casket was carried by an honor guard from a small plane to a waiting hearse during the transfer ceremony.

Members of the assembled group of family and friends cried out when the flag-draped coffin was revealed.

Watch video from Wednesday's transfer ceremony

Miguel said standing on the tarmac looking at his brother’s casket was an emotional moment.

“It was very, very difficult for my mom and dad, Courtney his wife, and my brothers and sister,” Miguel said. “I can’t even explain the feeling, it’s too hard a feeling to describe.”

Octavio joined the Army in 2007, and was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed in the Paktia Province by indirect fire.

But warfare never left Octavio bitter, Miguel said.

“Tavi was a 12-year-old boy in a 26-year-old man’s body,” he said. “He never shared the evil that he saw. He just came home and shared his love with us, his family.”

A funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of the Valley Roman Catholic Church in Caldwell. Octavio will be buried in the Idaho Veteran’s Cemetery in Boise.

“It’s going to be really hard living life without him,” Miguel said.

Katie Terhune: 377-6219

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