JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The family of a young Southside soldier killed in Afghanistan last week said Osama bin Laden's death means their loved one's death was not in vain.
The Department of Defense announced the death of Pfc. Jonathan M. Villanueva, 19, of Jacksonville over the weekend.
The DoD released a statement Saturday saying he died on April 27th in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. The DoD said Pfc. Villanueva died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, La.
On Monday, the Villanueva family released a statement saying:
"This is a very sad time for us. We are very appreciative of all the support we have received from the Army, family and friends. Jonathan died young, but he lived a great life. He touched so many people with his kindness, humor and generosity. Becoming a soldier was a dream of his when he was younger. Jonathan left this world doing what he loved. His death, along with the other servicemen and women who have lost their lives since the September 11th tragedy, were not in vain. Their efforts combined helped put an end to the evil of Bin Laden. We were always very proud of Jonathan for his accomplishments and we will continue to be very proud. Jonathan loved his job, uniform, and country. He loved his family and friends. He lives within our hearts and we will never forget the joy he has brought us. He will always be remembered as a true friend, a great son, a loyal brother and a hero to all. "
Diego Villanueva, Jonathan Villanueva's father, said his son attended Alfred I Du Pont Middle School and then Wolfson High School, but graduated from Englewood High School. His father said Jonathan first enrolled in JROTC at Englewood.
Diego Villanueva said funeral arrangements for his son are pending, however he expects his son's body to arrive at NAS JAX once plans are finalized. Villanueva plans to bury his son in Jacksonville. A spokesperson with NAS JAX said there is no information yet on funeral arrangements.
While the family is not giving on camera interviews at this point, it wanted to express gratitude to the U.S. Army. Villanueva said military members helping the family through the tragedy have been an important source of support.
Villanueva adds that Jonathan's brother is also in the military and recently returned from a deployment in the Middle East. He said the family was looking forward to spending more time together once Jonathan returned from his deployment.
The Villanueva family shared several pictures of Pfc. Villanueva with First Coast News. Those can viewed at the top of this story.
First Coast News