(The Salinas Californian/WZZM) - A U.S. soldier from Salinas, California with ties to West Michigan lost his life in defense of his country Saturday, two days before Memorial Day, according to the Defense Department.
Army Spc. Vilmar Galarza Hernandez, 21, died from wounds suffered in Zharay, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
A Defense Department spokesman said Hernandez and an undetermined number of other U.S. soldiers were patrolling during the attack. Information on whether other soldiers were killed or injured was not immediately available.
The spokesman said Hernandez was likely on foot when attacked. No other details were provided.
Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue said he learned of Hernandez's death while attending Sunday's Memorial Day service at the Monterey County Vietnam Veterans Park. The news spread quickly moments after the ceremony.