17 years later, fallen New Mexico soldier memorialized

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RIO RANCHO, N.M. – A fallen New Mexico veteran was officially memorialized in his home state Monday, 17 years after he was killed in action.

“No service member should be forgotten, and this is, I really believe this is the best thing we can do for him” said Roberto Martinez, a Navy veteran.

Jonathan Grant was killed in Iraq on May 11, 2005. His squad of Marines was traveling when an explosive device was detonated near his vehicle. The 23-year-old from Pojoaque was only in Iraq for five months before the incident.

Martinez said he noticed Grant’s name was missing from Veteran’s Memorial Park in Rio Rancho, and thought it was well past time for his sacrifice to be recognized in New Mexico.

“By doing the ceremony like this, we do, we do that, we make it up to him and his family for the sacrifice they have” Martinez said. “For two children that didn’t have a father for 17 years, and all of us that came home.”

Grant’s family – including his fiancé, his 2 grown children and his mother – attended a Memorial Day service Monday morning, where city leaders unveiled a new stone with his name on it.

“We just want him always remembered… we miss him a lot” said Alma Roybal, Grant’s mother.

Grant’s brother, Travis Roybal, read a letter written by Grant’s daughter during the ceremony. The letter highlighted accomplishments made by the family since Grant was killed in action, including the birth of Grant’s grandchildren.

“We often wonder how things would be if you were still here with us today, but we know that you are with us in spirit,” said Travis Roybal.

“I think this is what Memorial Day is all about” said Charles Walters, a Marine veteran. “I think a lot of times people are somber and sad, but they want us to celebrate they want us to go on and recognize their honor as a positive.”