MADELIA, Minn. (WCCO) — A Minnesota soldier killed in Iraq was remembered Friday as someone who deeply loved his country, community and family.
Army Specialist Emilio Campo Junior of Madelia died earlier in June when his unit was hit by indirect fire. Four others in Campo’s unit also died in the attack.
Friends and family of Campo Junior welcomed him home to Madelia on Friday, but it wasn’t the type of homecoming they expected or wanted. They walked behind his casket, loaded from the hearse and followed him into the funeral home at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
The service celebrated Campo Junior, a confident young man who was remembered as a motivator, a role model and an honorable soldier who sacrificed his life.
“Our lives changed that day,” Campo Junior’s mother said during the service, referring to the day he died.
Campo Junior was killed in Baghdad when enemies attacked and opened fire on him and his fellow soldiers. He was awarded five medals, including a Purple Heart for being killed in action, and the bronze star for distinguished military service.
The Army presented his parents with the medals at the service.
“We remember a great person who loved his community, who loved his church and his country,” said Father Thomas Cook, who presided over the service.
Campo Junior was inspired by his parents to become a doctor. His father is disabled, his mother has health problems. He couldn’t afford college, so he joined the Army and became an Army medic.
“You could see it in his smile, his generous service to others, and it never stopped. Love is stronger than death, the bible says, and he never stopped loving others,” Father Cook said.
There is heartache knowing that Campo Junior didn’t come home alive. But there is also pride, knowing how he died, serving for his country, doing what he loved to do.