Corsicana Daily Sun


10/14 Rice family holds out hope Tim Gauna is alive


RICE - Tim Gauna followed family precedence by serving his country in the military. His young life may have been lost in yet another family manner.

Some 31 years after the grandfather he never saw died in a drowning, Gauna, 21, of Rice, is feared dead after Thursday's apparent terrorist attack against the USS Cole. The military ship was refueling in the port of Aden near Yemen when an explosion killed seven sailors.

Another nine sailors, like Gauna, are listed as missing and presumed dead.

Nevertheless, his family still held out hope Friday he would be found alive.

"We've been praying, refusing to give up hope until we see a body," said Diane Carrillo Friday, outside of the Gauna's home in Rice. Diane, Gauna's aunt, is the sister of Sarah Gauna, Tim's mother.

"I've been telling (family members) he might be trapped," Carrillo said. "I still say he is trapped."

Sarah Gauna's house has become a post for family members, many of whom have either served in the military or are currently doing so. One relative, a young Marine, was on a brief leave from a base in California to buy a car.

U.S. Rep. Martin Frost (D-Dallas) made a visit to the Gauna household Friday afternoon. The representative for Navarro County and much of Ellis County said any American that dons a military uniform does so understanding the risks.

"The family members know when you serve in the military there are risks," Frost said. "You hope this never happens, but this is a dangerous world."

Tim Gauna's younger brother, Albert Ramirez, spent much of the early hours talking to the media about the conversions he had via phone with his brother recently. Ramirez said it was the usual topic of conversation; each would ask the other how they were doing and Ramirez would ask Gauna where he was.

"I know he couldn't tell me," Ramirez said, "but he'd just say, "The middle of the sea.' "

Ironically Ramirez has been planning to join the Navy and, again, follow the family tradition. The only thing keeping him from joining the service is giving his oath.

Now those plans are unclear, Ramirez said.

"I'll probably hold off a year," he said. "It would be a lot harder on my mom ... I don't want her to have to go through this again.

"I'll give it some time."

Carrillo said the wait for word on Tim reminded her of her father's death in 1969. Frank Gauna drowned, and much like the past few days, the family had to wait for a definite word on the fate of a loved one.

"It's been 31 years, but to me it's the same thing," she said. "Dad's gone and to this day I still don't believe it."

Tim Gauna joined the Navy in 1999. In February the Navy Public Affairs Center in Norfolk, Va., the USS Cole's home base, issued a press release to the Daily Sun about Gauna's impending first deployment from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

"This is my first deployment. I will not forget this port," Gauna was quoted as saying in the release.

"He went there to better himself, to make a better life for himself," Sarah Gauna told the Associated Press. "He just kept saying, "We're in dangerous waters, Mom, but we're OK. I'll be OK. I promise you."

Gauna was an information systems technician. In the release he listed some of his duties as "handling and preparing incoming and outgoing messages using radio communications systems, for the captain, executive officer and other departments. My job is important, especially when we are out to sea."

James Gauna, Tim's uncle, said the family just always called Tim a "radio control officer."

"We were very close," James said. "He would contact me through the Internet when he had a chance to."

James Gauna said Tim would often ask to be included in family prayers. He also believes his nephew expected trouble on the mission to the Yemeni harbor.

"I think he had a sense, that feeling," James said. "I guess I would, too."


10/26 Rice sailor hailed as hero as he is laid to rest



ENNIS - The flags flying over the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday were honoring an "American Hero" that was laid to rest that afternoon in Ennis.

Memorial services were held for Timothy Gauana, 21, of Rice, Wednesday at the Church of God in Ennis.

Gauana was one of 17 American sailors killed in a terrorist attack on the USS Cole Oct. 12.

Navy officials say that terrorists committed the suicide bombing that ripped a 30 foot by 40 foot hole in the hull of the USS Cole in the Port of Aden, Yemen.

The Reverend Edwin Lipsey of Waxahachie expressed apologies from Congressman Martin Frost for not being at the funeral in person, as Congress was in session. However, Frost stood on the Congress floor Wednesday and entered several paragraphs into record honoring Gauana.

The flags that flew over the capitol in honor of Gauana will be sent to his family along with certificates to authenticate the procedures.

The Rev. Lipsey cited a song that he heard on the radio that reminded him of Timothy Gauana. That song was Lee Greenwood's anthem, "Proud to Be an American."

""Tim was definitely a man that was proud to be an American. He enjoyed the freedom that he had living in this great country of ours,'' Lipsey said. ""He respected this freedom so much, he voluntarily joined the U.S. Navy in 1999 to defend this country to perpetuate this freedom that he enjoyed growing up as a child; the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom to choose decisions to better his life.

"He loved his freedom so much that he was willing to give his life for this freedom.''

Gauana was a 1997 graduate of Ennis High School where he played on the varsity baseball and basketball team. He joined the Navy in 1999 as a information systems technician.

Gauana's family said Timothy joined the Navy to "better his life."

"Freedom is not free," said Rear Admiral John Costas. "It never has been such, and it never will be. Freedom is won by those who are willing to put themselves in harm's way so that this great country of ours can live in freedom's precious warmth and bask in liberty."

Costas presented Sarah Gauana, Timothy's mother, with the Navy Achievement Medal for Timothy Gauana's efforts in rescuing a choking shipmate prior to the attack on the Cole.

Gauana's mother was also presented with a Purple Heart, the oldest medal of the U.S. armed forces. It is given to servicemen who have been killed or injured by foreign hostility. Timothy Gauana received this medal posthumously following his death in the attack on the USS Cole.

Pastor Russell Mills of the Church of God in Ennis offered these words of strength and encouragement to the Gauana family and friends.

"Timothy will not be coming back to us," Mills said. "There will be no sound of his footsteps in the kitchen, there will be no sound of his voice. He loved us, and he died protecting us. He paid the price to protect us. We are all American citizens, we all need American heroes like Tim.

"He isn't coming back, we are not going to get him back. But he does have one request for you. That request is that, "You (the audience) please come to where I (Timothy Gauana) am.' "

Gauana's family members and friends were visibly shaken through the service, as were the approximately 75 Navy personnel on hand for the service. Three of the Navy servicemen were shipmates of Timothy Gauana aboard the Cole.

"The strength of our country is built on those who are willing to sacrifice," added Costas. "Tragically, some are called away too early in their young lives. Seaman Timothy Gauana was one of these young heroes in our society today. The best America has to offer, a true national treasure."


Originally published in the Corsicana Daily Sun, October 19, 2000 & Oct 26, 2000
Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun

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