KIA November 27, 2007
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Assigned to 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York
Army PVT Isaac Cortes died November 27, 2007 of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device in Amerli, Iraq. Also killed in the blast was SPC Benjamin J. Garrison.
Isaac grew up in Parkchester, the Bronx, in one of the sprawling apartment developments built by Metropolitan Life in the 1930s and ‘40s He attended Christopher Columbus High School and upon graduation, Isaac got work as a ride operator at Playland Amusement Park in Rye, one in a series of jobs. “Like every ordinary young man, he was looking for things to do,” said Irma Cruz, his maternal grandmother. Several years prior to his passing, Isaac met a young woman who had a child. “He helped raise her,” said Wanda Toro, an aunt. “To him, she was no different than if she was his own daughter.” In 2006, Isaac found work closer to home, but had hopes that were larger than a string of seasonal jobs, said Donna Vasquez, a friend. “He wanted to be a police officer or go into the military,” she said. “He wanted to be a person of respect and dignity, to not have a street life. He never had any problems like that.” Around the end of the baseball season of that year, he enlisted in the Army and went to Fort Benning for basic training.
Back home in the summer of 2007, Isaac’s next move was clear: He would be one of the 30,000 additional soldiers that the Bush administration was sending to Iraq in hopes of quelling the violence. He left in August. “He said it was the best decision he ever made,” his Aunt Wanda said. “He spoke to his mother on Thanksgiving Day. He said it was really crazy, that he was very tired.” Five days later, PVT Cortes and SPC Garrison were driving through the village of Amerli, 100 miles north of Baghdad when the roadside bomb detonated that took their lives. Earlier that year in July, one of the deadliest bombings of the war had killed between over 150 people there. PVT Cortes had been deployed for three and a half months.
PVT Isaac Cortes was 26 years old from the Bronx, New York
Original portrait was presented March 14, 2015 to Isaac’s parents and family during a private event hosted by the Fort Hamilton Military Base in Brooklyn, New York.