Corona mother Maria Duran refuses to give up hope that her son, Specialist Alex Jimenez, will come home to her.
For three weeks, she has waited for word that the 25-year-old soldier, who military officials believe was kidnapped by Al Qaeda in Iraq, is alive, but as she waits, her feeling of helplessness has grown.
“I cannot do anything but think about where is my son,” Duran said recently. “What’s he doing? Who has my son?”
At a prayer vigil held in Corona on Thursday, May 25 for Alex Jimenez, Duran broke down in tears as wellwishers offered her and Jimenez’s father, Ramon Jimenez, sympathy and support. The day before, the body of 20-year-old Private First Class Joseph Anzack, one of two other soldiers kidnapped with Alex Jimenez, had been identified.
“I pray every night for the three missing people,” Ramon, nicknamed Andy, Jimenez said at the vigil. “And I say, ‘God give me my son back!’”
Alex Jimenez, Anzack, and 19-year-old Private Byron W. Fouty are believed to have been abducted during an ambush that left four soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter dead at the “Triangle of Death,” a particularly volatile area 25 miles southwest of Baghdad on May 12. Since then, a massive search has been conducted for the men.
Duran said that the last time she had spoken to her son was on May 4, and her hope that she would hear his voice in time for Mother’s Day in the Dominican Republic - the last Sunday in May - was not realized.
“The only thing that I know is that they are looking and trying to find him,” Duran said at the vigil. “We have been crazy here and crying.”
Meanwhile the community where her son grew up has rallied around her, plastering photos of the missing soldier in storefront windows and tying yellow ribbons to telephone poles and trees.
“We are asking everyone irrespective of what their faith might be, to join together in praying to your higher power, your higher authority, that Alex will be found and he will be safe and he will be returned home,” City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate told the collective of religious leaders, friends, family, Dominican ambassador Eduardo Delman Habun and Assemblymember Jose Peralta at the vigil.
Reverend Dr. Andy Torres, pastor of the Hispanic Church of the Community Inc., and Gurnam Singh, Chair of the Sikh Cultural Society, Inc. also led prayers for Alex Jimenez.
One of six children, Alex Jimenez lived in Corona until age seven before moving with his family to Lawrence, Massachusetts. According to published reports, he attended high school in the Dominican Republic, where his family was originally from, then moved back to the United States to enlist in the military. Three years ago, he married his wife, Yadelin, now 23-years-of-age, who has not spoken to the media since her husband’s abduction.