Sunday, August 26, 2007


Twenty-seven year old Marine Sergeant Michael Tayaotao, said to be the first Igorot soldier to die during the Iraq war, will be buried Friday (Saturday Manila time) at Poway, California.Tayaotao, a bomb disposal technician with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, was killed Aug. 9 in Al-Anbar province while undergoing combat operations.

According to her aunt, Connie, the Tayaotaos trace their roots in Balili, La Trinidad. Though Michael was born in San Diego, CA and was never been to the Philippines, he was an FBI or a Full-blooded Igorot. His father Mario is a retired US Navy serviceman and mother Hilda is from Kapangan. Connie said that Michael's grandmother Bibiana would be attending the burial. Michael would be buried beside younger brother Vincent who died last October while a student at the University of California in Irvine.

Tayaotao is a bemedalled soldier who was even praised by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a courageous man. "His courage is an example of the extraordinary commitment that is displayed every day by our nation's service members. Each time we lose a member of our armed forces, we are painfully reminded of the cost of freedom and democracy," Schwarzenegger said in a press statement.

Tayaotao was on his third tour of duty when he died and has already spent nine years in the Army. Another Fil-Am soldier was killed last week in Iraq, bringing to six the Fil-Americans who died in Iraq since May. Army Private First Class Paulo Marko U. Pacificador, 24, died of wounds on August 13 in Qayyarah when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. Pacificador, a son of a Filipino soldier, was a resident of Queens, New York City and was born in Buguey, Cagayan. Pacificador joined the US Army in January 2006 and was on his third mission when he and two others from the 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division died in Iraq. His father, Jose, belonged to the Philippine Air Force. Mark was six when their family migrated to the US. Four other Fil-Ams died in Iraq since May.

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