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George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes

At the beginning of the Iraq War, nearly 40,000 members of the United States military were not citizens. Army Private First Class Diego Rincon was one of them. As a child, he had immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia with his family. He had always known he wanted to join the military, and at 19, he enlisted in the Army.


Diego was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, at the beginning of the war. Just 11 days in, he was killed by a suicide bomber. Diego received U.S. citizenship on April 10, 2003 — the day of his funeral.

His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes, came to StoryCorps to remember him.

Originally aired May 26, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Diego Rincon. Courtesy of the Rincon Family.
Bottom photo: Army Pfc. Diego Rincon’s uniform and photograph stand next to his flag-draped casket during a funeral service on April 10, 2003 in Conyers, Georgia. AP Photo/John Bazemore