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Newman soldier memorialized

NEWMAN, CA - Tony "T.J." Gonzales, who died in Iraq two years ago, was memorialized with a plaque structure Tuesday at the Newman Police Department in Stanislaus County. SLIDESHOW: Tony Gonzales memorial 

Gonzales was 20 years old when he died Dec. 28, 2008, during a roadside bombing.  He was the first and only person from Newman to die in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Gonzales hoped for a career in law enforcement when he finished with the military.  The memorial, unveiled before a large group of Newman residents, sits outside the Newman Police Department.

His parents and three sisters were in the audience.

"Every time I read about a casualty, I relive that feeling.  I've walked in their shoes.  My heart cries for them," said father Tony Gonzales.

The family was touched by Newman's insistence on not forgetting one of its own.

"It's one of the most humbling experiences.  I'm proud to say I'm from Newman.  The outpour of love two years ago and now, it's amazing," said sister Shaula Gonzales.

By tdaly@news10.net