Monday, March 20, 2006

Angelo A. Zawaydeh

Angelo A. Zawaydeh

Individuals -- When Angelo Zawaydeh was 16, the San Bruno boy wanted to join the military. His parents refused.

``When he was 18, he said, `Well, I don't need anybody's permission,' '' his mother, April Bradreau, recalled Friday.

He enlisted in the Army, and in September he was sent to Iraq.

Wednesday, at a Baghdad traffic control point, 19-year-old Pfc. Zawaydeh was manning a machine gun atop a tank when he was killed by a bullet in the neck. He becomes one of more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers who have been killed since the Iraq war began three years ago.

Bradreau, 45, and her husband received the news of their son's death Thursday, on the eve of their 21st wedding anniversary. Reached by phone at the family's San Bruno home Friday afternoon, she said her son had become disillusioned with the war, but he also had been instilled with a soldier's pride -- to do as ordered and do that job well.

His parents cited many reasons for him not to go into the military. His mother and father, Akram Zawaydeh, who is Jordanian, did not believe their son should participate in a Middle Eastern war. The younger Zawaydeh's uncle is a member of the Jordanian parliament, Bradreau said.

They debated many things, including the politics of the war. But most of all, the parents were worried about how the violence, the carnage, the killing, might affect their son.

``Mostly what it was, what would it do to his psyche? To have to murder someone else? Unfortunately, when boys are 18 years old, their testosterone gets in the way, doesn't it?'' Bradreau said.

Over time, Pfc. Zawaydeh began to draw a bright line between the job he knew he had to carry out and the politics of the war.

``He believed what he was doing was the right thing,'' Bradreau said. ``He didn't believe that what President Bush was doing was the right thing anymore. He thought we could let them (the Iraqis) fight their own battles from now on over there.''

Zawaydeh was born in San Francisco. He attended Terra Nova High School in Pacifica. Many of his good pals would enlist in the armed forces, which played a part in his motivation to enlist.

``When he joined,'' Bradreau said, ``we asked, `Why didn't you go to college?' And he said, `I can't sit in the classroom anymore. I need to get up and do something.' ''

He was assigned to the Army's 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Ky.

After his four-year hitch, Zawaydeh intended to attend college in the Los Angeles area.

``He said he wanted to go where the sun shines all the time . . . He just wanted to go and get in college and take some classes and figure out from there what was his,'' she said.

He had been an avid skateboarder, and when he heard the family was moving to a house at Folsom he was delighted -- it would make it easier for him to learn how to snowboard.

``What did I love about him? He was always there for anybody who needed help. He never said no to anybody. He was a respectful young man. He helped whenever I needed help,'' she said.

He was at home in December 2004 when his 89-year-old grandmother, Helene Bradreau, suffered a massive heart attack. He tried to save her life with CPR only to see her die days later in a hospital.

A week before his death, he phoned his parents. He was excited about his pet Siberian husky, Shadow, and her 3-month-old male pup, Oso.

``He was telling us he was going to go south and set up a new camp . . . He told us not to worry and that he'd be coming home anyway in May and telling everybody he loved them and that we better take care of his dogs,'' she said.

Zawaydeh is survived by his parents and his sisters, Francesca, 17, and Nicole, 14; and his 12-year-old brother, Dominic

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