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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Iraq: HERO'S KIN: GI HAD CALLED WAR ''LOST CAUSE''

The family of a decorated soldier and father of two who was killed last weekend while serving in Iraq lashed out at the war yesterday, calling his death "unnecessary."

The Boston Herald
By: Marie Szaniszlo
August 30, 2006

Army Spc. Edgardo Zayas, 29, of Dorchester was killed in Baghdad Saturday when an IED detonated near his patrol, officials said.

"When I went in '91, we knew who we were fighting against; now, we don't," said his cousin, Norberto Martinez, who served in the military from 1991 to 1994.

"He fought for his country, and it came to this point, which is completely unnecessary."

Yesterday, Martinez sat in the small, neatly kept apartment where his cousin grew up, not far from Zayas' alma mater, Dorchester High School, and the nursing home where he once worked and eventually met his wife.

It was one of a series of jobs Zayas worked after high school. But college was his goal, and the military, he decided, was going to get him there, Martinez said.

Enticed by its promise of tuition aid, Zayas joined the Army in 2004, against the wishes of his parents, his mother, Gloria said yesterday.

In the 2 years since, he began to question the purpose of the war, according to Martinez.

"He found it a lost cause," Martinez said. "He doesn't know why he went...I always told him, 'Keep your head high and watch your back.'"

And Zayas did, winning 2 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star in the process.

Last week, when he phoned his cousin, he seemed in good spirits.

"He was actually happy. He thought this was almost over," Martinez said. "They're (military officials are) feeding this to them: "It's almost over, it's almost over."

For Zayas, that prediction proved all too true and came with a finality his parents had feared.

Yesterday, his mother sat in her living room, cradling a photo of her son, and wept.

Today, Zayas' wife, now the widowed mother of a boy and a girl, ages 7 and 5, is scheduled to arrive from Kentucky, where he was stationed before he left for Iraq.

"The only thing keeping us motivated," Martinez said, "is he fought for his country, and he died a hero."

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