Flags flying at half-staff for fallen N.M. soldier

The U.S. and New Mexico flags fly at half-staff Thursday outside the Curry County Courthouse in honor of fallen Roswell soldier Pfc. Rick Salas Jr. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq did not see any flags billowing low Thursday, though the governor ordered all flags be flown at half-staff until sundown Friday in honor of her son.

She was too busy planning for his funeral in Lubbock.

Army Pfc. Rick Salas Jr., 22, died Monday.

The Humvee vehicle he was driving in the warn-torn country was hit by a roadside bomb and flipped on its belly.

“The thoughts and prayers of the people of New Mexico go out to his family as well as a heartfelt thank you for his courageous service,” Gov. Bill Richardson said.

Salas left behind many, including a mourning mother, father, a wife and two young children.

The former construction worker enlisted in the Army about 18 months ago so he would be able to care for his family and gain worldly experiences, his mother said.

He was expected to return state-side next month, family members said.
The soldier had settled in Roswell with his wife prior to his deployment. He attended high school in Lubbock.

He is the 19th New Mexico soldier or Marine killed in Iraq, according to the Associated Press.

Though Robertson had yet to see the honor bestowed upon her son, she said the gesture touched her.

“I am very proud of my son and very honored (by the gesture),” Robertson said through tears.

“Every soldier,” she said, “has a mother. Every soldier has a family.”

Employees at the Clovis City Hall lowered flags outside the hall once they received word of Richardson’s executive order, city employees said.

“We can’t do enough,” said Don Clifton, city hall administrator, “for our soldiers.

“They are fighting for our freedom, and we are forever indebted,” Clifton said.

Since her son’s death, Robertson said she no longer supports the war in Iraq.

CNJ staff writer Andy Jackson contributed to this report.