Chad A. Gonsalves

______  _______

Sgt. 1st Class Chad A. Gonsalves

Special Forces Weapons Sergeant

3rd Battalion

7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, NC

KIA 13 February 2006 when an enemy improvised explosive device exploded near his Ground Mobility Vehicle during operations north of Deh Rawod in central Afghanistan

Special Forces Condolences Book

Awards and Decorations

Bronze Star with V device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Special Operations Diver Badge, Ranger Tab and Special Forces Tab.

Sgt. 1st Class Chad Gonsalves is survived by his wife Julie, and three sons Cody, Blake and Dylan of Spring Lake, N.C. His parents, Larry and Marsha Gonsalves of Turlock also survive him.

Assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), died Feb. 13 north of Deh Rawod in central Afghanistan, when the vehicle he was traveling in struck an improvised explosive device.

Gonsalves, a native of Turlock, Calif., was 31 years old. He joined the Army in July 1996 and completed basic and advanced individual training as an infantryman at Fort Benning, Ga. 

He then served as an infantry team leader with 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, Conn Barracks, near Schweinfurt, Germany where he served four years. In 2000, Gonsalves volunteered for Special Forces training and upon completion of the Special Forces Qualification Course he was assigned to 7th SFG (A) in 2001 as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant.

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Green Beret saluted, Husband, son and comrade mourned

By ROGER W. HOSKINS BEE STAFF WRITER
Last Updated: March 1, 2006, 04:58:00 AM PST

Turlock, CA It was the moment that Larry Gonsalves said he would dread. His son's favorite song, "The Ballad of the Green Berets," was echoing through the chapel. "I don't know if I will be able to hold it together," the elder Gonsalves said of the ultimate test in the funeral Monday for his son Chad Gonsalves, 31, a Green Beret killed in Afghanistan on Feb. 13. 

As emotions and tears washed over the family, a recording of Sgt. Barry Sadler sang:

" her Green Beret has met his fate. He has died for those oppressed, leaving her this last request:

"Put silver wings on my son's chest. Make him one of America's best."

Julie Gonsalves

places hand on the casket

of her husband,

Army Sgt. 1st Class Chad Gonsalves,

who died serving in Afghanistan. 

BART AH YOU/THE BEE

Brig. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr.

presents a U.S. flag to

Marsha Gonsalves,

who is holding her grandson Blake.

Chad's brother Joshua and his father, Larry, are beside her. 

DEBBIE NODA/THE BEE

Julie Gonsalves stands

with

Brig. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr.

while her husband's casket is carried to the church Monday in Turlock. 

BART AH YOU/THE BEE

Team Members from the

7th SFG (ABN) Ft. Bragg, NC

fold the flag that laid on

Chad Gonsalves' casket before it is presented to his wife.

His mother also received a flag. 

DEBBIE NODA/THE BEE

The video montage came to life and death in the images of young Chad playing Army from age 7 to 12, with more photographs of his Army and Green Beret training a decade later. 

After the funeral, Chad's widow, Julie Gonsalves of Fayetteville, N.C., talked about the song and its message.

The song lifted her spirits. "It's my favorite song, and that's my favorite verse," she said.

Asked if she would, if she could really raise her sons to be Green Berets, she smiled. "My sons can do whatever they want. I may not like it, but that's my job, not to like it. If my sons want to follow in their Daddy's footsteps and be Green Berets, they can. Chad would be proud."

Julie Gonsalves said she tried to honor her husband's wishes that she not let loose too many tears and "get sappy."

"But when I saw Chad (in the video montage) with that blue truck he loved, it was hard. I'd have to grab one of my boys and hide my face."

Hard and heartbreaking were the orders of the day for about 500 family members and friends gathered at Monte Vista Chapel in Turlock to pay their last respects to the latest local casualty in the war on terrorism.

There were 300 or more people lining the three-mile route from the church to Turlock Memorial Park at 2:45 p.m. The well-wishers held flags and signs aloft with some of the young and old saluting the hearse and military entourage. 

The crowd may have been held down by intermittent showers throughout the day. 

But Debbie Katsounakis, president of Central Valley Blue Star Mothers and Families, believed there was something divine in the weather. 

"Every time we go to a funeral, it's raining," she noted. "It's like God is crying, too." 

For some, the most emotional moment would come when Chad's mother, Marsha Gonsalves, read a poem based on his life. 

Laughter relieved grief and tension when she told how much she wanted her son to be a librarian instead of a soldier. Then she observed how pointless her opposition turned out to be.

When she was complimented on delivering the poem, she said she went to Turlock Memorial Chapel earlier that morning.

"I asked Chad to give me strength," she said. "And that's what he did." 

The final goodbye at Turlock Memor-ial Park touched all who saw or heard it. The brief ceremony was inside the mausoleum because of the weather. 

The soldier's casket, draped with an American flag, was placed in front of the family's 15 chairs. About 100 onlookers stood in the wings and to the rear. Another 100 spilled over outdoors. 

After the prayers, Brig. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr. knelt before Julie Gonsalves and presented her with the flag that covered her husband's casket. Her shoulders sagged as she wept.

When a second flag was presented to Chad Gonsalves' parents, Marsha Gonsalves held tightly to her son Joshua and moaned.

Her grief echoed outside through the graveyard. 

Katsounakis and the assembled crowd were reverent in their sympathy.

"It is hard to hear the cry of a mother who has lost her son. It stays with you forever."

At the conclusion of the service, the assembly lined up to pay last respects to the family. 

A Green Beret colonel, Michael Humphrey, who had lost his leg, pressed a memorial coin into Julie Gonsalves' hands. 

There were childhood friends who came to help bear the grief if they could. 

There were other families who were all too familiar with what the Gonsalveses now face. They were the survivors of soldiers named Anderson, Hill, Cervantes and Sanchez. 

When Marsha Gonsalves could bear no more, a friend led her to a waiting car. 

Husband Larry stayed behind to greet every mourner. 

The final 12 in line were his son's comrades in arms, fellow Green Berets. 

They shook Larry's hand, walked four steps to the head of the casket and turned. And in the last act before Chad's burial, they saluted. 

Bee staff writer Roger W. Hoskins can be reached at 578-2311 or rhoskins@modbee.com.
Copyright 2006 The Modesto Bee 


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**Information from SFAHQ.com, The Department of Defense, USASOC and the Modesto Bee used in this Article.

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