Leroy Segura Sr. hugs his niece, Alisha Segura, on Tuesday at his home in Clovis. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Leroy “J.R.” Segura Jr. had already earned a Purple Heart when he returned to Iraq for a second tour of duty in July.
Returning to the war-ravaged country just six months after his first tour was difficult for his son, Leroy Segura Sr. said. He was tired and wanted some down time but didn’t complain, his father said.
“He thought it was too soon,” Leroy Segura said his son told him when he received his orders to Iraq for the second time.
Segura, 23, a 2001 Clovis High graduate, died Friday from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident while serving in Habbaniyah, Iraq, a news release from the Department of Defense reported. A sergeant assigned to the 362nd Engineer Company, 54th Engineer Battalion at Fort Benning, Ga., Segura built and maintained bridges.
Family members gathered Tuesday at Segura’s childhood home and talked about him.
They described a family-oriented young man who loved his grandmother’s homemade tortillas and his mother’s menudo. They recalled how he loved summer camping trips, how he would play in the Pecos River, and how he would scoop up his baby brother for hugs.
Most of all they remembered his endless smile.
“Happy-go-lucky,” Leroy Segura Sr. described his son.
During his first tour of duty, J.R. Segura suffered burns to his arms when a suicide bomber rammed his Army vehicle.
He told his father he saw a blinding white light as he turned just in time to see the bomb explode. He woke later in the hospital, he told his parents.
J.R. Segura recovered from his injuries and returned to duty, completing his rotation in the war-torn country, his father said.
“He was a little shaken up but his spirits were good. He saw a lot of scary stuff he shouldn’t have seen,” Leroy Segura Sr. said.
An accomplished high school distance runner and solid student, J.R.
Segura followed in the footsteps of his father and uncles and joined the military, family members said.
“He had a choice but that’s what he wanted,” his father said.
His parents said they were surprised when he came home and told them he had joined the Army.
U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq had them concerned, his mother, Sandra Segura said. But they felt it was his decision to make.
“That’s what he wanted to do — something clicked, I guess he just wanted to make a difference,” the soldier’s father said. It was hard for them, but they supported him, he said.
“He would always say, ‘it’s not that bad over here Mom,” Sandra Segura said.
In less than four years, Segura made sergeant and was planning to make the Army his career.
“Everything was going so well for him, everything was just falling into place,” his father told. “He was focused on that E6, he was just about there.”
His parents went to see him at Fort Benning last month before his unit deployed.
“They were a good bunch of kids there. He got close to his new unit,” his father said. “They knew what they were going to be facing it together.”