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Soldier who died in Iraq leaves wife, infant son in Lake County

  • Army Pfc. Steven Shapiro

When Lake County resident Adela Shapiro gazes at her infant son, she sees her husband, U.S. Army Pfc. Steven Shapiro, 29, who died Friday in Iraq.

“He looks exactly like my husband,” she said of Micah, born Sept. 30.

Shapiro died in a non-combat incident, according to Army officials. His wife said Army officials have told her only that his death is under investigation.

Shapiro's body was flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday. Adela Shapiro said she flew there to witness the homecoming. She's planning a service and burial at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno but does not yet have a date.

Steven Shapiro was a tank driver in Iraq, she said.

He reported to basic training March 1, 2010, and was sent to Fort Hood that July.

He was assigned to the Texas-based 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, according to the Fort Hood public affairs office.

He was working in support of Operation New Dawn when he died in Tallil, Iraq, according to the defense department.

Shapiro grew up in a foster home in Fremont, his wife said. His guardian, Stephanie Willis, died when he was 18, and he spent several years traveling and moving around California after he turned 18.

Adela met her husband eight years ago, but they didn't date until early 2009, when he was attending City College of San Francisco, majoring in liberal arts.

“He was very intellectual. He could talk about anything,” she said. They were married at the end of 2009.

Steven Shapiro quickly embraced her family as his own and listed their home in Hidden Valley Lake as his hometown on military forms. Adela has been living there with her family during her husband's deployment. The community is next to a lake and golf course on Highway 29 north of Middletown.

Adela's father, John Veguilla, a retired Army command sergeant major, inspired her husband to join the Army, she said. Her brother, Hannibal Veguilla, also is in the Army. He is a sergeant stationed at Fort Bliss, in El Paso.

Shapiro loved being in the Army and planned to make it his career, his wife said.

He also loved being a family man and a father. He managed to come home for his son's birth last month and returned to duty Oct. 13, she said.

Adela said she knows soldiers are at risk in Iraq but was confident her husband would survive because her father and brother have.

“It never crossed my mind” he would die, she said.

She'll likely step up her plan to go to school to become a nurse so she can support their child.

“He smirks a little when he smiles, like my husband,” she said. “It's very weird to watch that.”

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