A fallen Bronx U.S. Marine was honored during a ceremony co-naming the intersection of Grand Concourse and Fordham Road in Fordham Heights as Marine Cpl. Ramona M. Valdez Square on Saturday, August 26.
Those in attendance included Valdez’s sisters, Estefania and Fiorela Valdez; her mother, Elida Nunez and Councilman Fernando Cabrera.
“I am deeply honored to be here today and to have sponsored legislation in the New York City Council to dedicate this intersection, East Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse, to Marine Cpl. Ramona M. Valdez, a true Bronx hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in U.S. military service,” Cabrera said.
Valdez, who joined the U.S. Marines at age 17, graduated from her basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC, and was sent to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC, where she became a communications specialist in 2001.
There she met Corporal Armando Guzman, whom she married in 2003.
Valdez was assigned to the Counter Improvised Explosive Device Working Group of the 2nd Marine Division.
Her knowledge of single-channel radios contributed to the success of the tests conducted by CIEDWG, according to a news release by the USMC.
Valdez was deployed to Iraq as a member of Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On June 23, 2005, Valdez was serving with the Female Search Force where she helped guard checkpoints and search Iraqi women and children.
Her convoy was on its way back to Camp Fallujah when a suicide bomber driving a car veered across a road and swerved directly into the convoy, causing a massive explosion that killed Valdez and two other women and three men.
The blast also severely burned seven other female soldiers.
When Valdez was killed, she was four days short of her 21st birthday. Born June 26, 1984, she died June 23, 2005.
Valdez, who was buried with full military honors, is survived by her husband, Armando Guzman; her mother, Elida Nuñez; father, Louis Valdez, younger sisters Fiorela Valdez and Estefani Valdez; and two nephews Justin and Joshua.
Valdez was posthumously honored by the U.S. Marine Corps when the II MEF Communications Training Center was dedicated as the Valdez Training Facility.
Valdez was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the Bronx, according to Cabrera.
At age 14, she began working at a concession stand at the Statue of Liberty to help her family.
She joined the Marines at age 17 to further assist her family financially.
After graduating from recruit training, she worked as a communications specialist.
She was deployed to Iraq as member of Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“While we will always mourn the tragic loss of Cpl. Valdez, her legacy of love for her family and valiant military service will be honored forever through this dedication,” Cabrera said. “We are proud of this U.S. military hero and daughter of the Bronx and the Dominican Republic.”