Army Spc. Genaro Acosta escaped serious injury in June when two missiles hit his Bradley fighting vehicle in Iraq.
When he completed his tour of duty in October, his family advised him to leave the service, but the 26-year-old from Fair Oaks, near Sacramento, reenlisted and stayed in Iraq.
On Nov. 11, Acosta was killed in Taji when his vehicle hit and detonated two improvised explosive devices. He was buried Monday at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.
"He truly felt that he was doing something for a greater cause, to free the Iraqi people," said his brother, Fernando Acosta, 27, of Fair Oaks. "And that was his family out there, the folks he was going to war with on a daily basis, and basically, he did not want to let them down."
Born on Sept. 19, 1977, in La Mirada, Genaro and Fernando Acosta were raised by their father, Fernando Acosta Sr., primarily in Long Beach, after their parents divorced.
Genaro Acosta, an avid weightlifter and fisherman, graduated from Mayfair High School in Lakewood in 1995, the same year his brother joined the Air Force. After graduation, Acosta moved in with his brother, who was stationed at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento.
Acosta, who had a son, Tyler, now 3, with girlfriend Terry Maxwell in Vacaville, joined the Army in October 2000, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, based at Ft. Hood, Texas.
"He wanted to better his life as a person for his son," said Fernando Acosta, who left the Air Force in 1999. "He felt very patriotic. Living the life with me, with the Air Force, I think he truly enjoyed that."
On his first day stationed at Ft. Hood in June 2001, Genaro Acosta met Roxanne Longoria, now 27, whom he married in May 2002 in a civil ceremony. After his deployment to Iraq in April, the couple wrote each other about their plans for a Catholic wedding next May. "He had already named the children, even though we didn't have children together yet," his wife said. "We had everything ready. All we were waiting for was him to come home."
Acosta also is survived by his mother, Betty Diaz of Anaheim; his grandmother, Praxebes Hernandez of Mexico; and his stepmother, Amelia Delacruz of Lakewood.