World
Bronx square renamed to honor soldier killed in Iraq

Bronx square renamed to honor soldier killed in Iraq


A Bronx square was renamed Saturday in honor of Cpl. Ramona Valdez, who died in 2005 while serving Iraq.

Valdez was killed just before her 21st birthday by a suicide bomber who detonated an improvised explosive near a Marine convoy.

On Saturday, dozens of Marines, community members and family gathered near East Fordham Road and Grand Concourse to watch as a small plaza there was renamed Marine Cpl. Ramona M. Valdez Square.

Valdez’s relatives traveled from across the country and the Dominican Republic to attend the moving ceremony.

Officials said they believe Valdez is the first woman soldier killed in Iraq to have a street renamed for her.

Fernando Cabrera, a city councilmember from the Bronx, spoke about Valdez’s many accomplishments.

“At the age of 14 she began working at the Statue of Liberty, selling concessions to help her family. She joined the Marines at the age of 17 to further assist her family financially,” he said.

She was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he added.

“Valdez was killed while serving with a female search force, helping to guard checkpoints and search Iraqi women and children,” Cabrera said.

Younger sister Fiorela Valdez fought back tears as she told the crowd she still thinks of her sister every day.

“I wish she was here to share my accomplishments. I wish she was here to see my kids grow ... She would have been so proud of me,” she said.

Childhood friend Rosemary Gomez joined the Army around the same time Cpl. Valdez joined the Marines — and said her buddy loved being a solider.

“She was amazing in every sense of the word. And I’m so glad ... the Bronx is honoring her. I talk about her every day. And I remind our youth that we have a responsibility to this country. Because freedom isn’t free,” Gomez said.

Inside the newly-named Marine Cpl. Ramona M. Valdez Square sits a recruitment center — the very one Valdez signed up with when she was 17.

“I want to give thanks to everybody who made this possible, for everybody that came out here to honor my daughter,” her mother, Elida Nunez, told the crowd.