Free World - September 14, 2021

Two days after the Feb. 8, 2020, death of Sergeant First Class Javier Jaguar Gut…

Two days after the Feb. 8, 2020, death of Sergeant First Class Javier Jaguar Gutierrez in Afghanistan—his parents, Sylvia and Javier, were told that Jaguar’s Green Beret team had been ambushed by one of the Afghan troops they were helping—his remains arrived on a C-17 cargo jet at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. As a light mist began to fall, the plane’s cargo hold yawned open. Six soldiers with white gloves emerged carrying Jaguar’s flag-draped transfer case off the back of the plane. The mortuary team at Dover prepared Jaguar for burial. They cleaned his 211-lb. body and washed his black hair. They put on his dress uniform teeming with medals and ribbons, including a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and expert infantry and parachutist badges. His Special Forces tab was stitched to his upper left sleeve. A sergeant first class chevron was stitched to the right sleeve. Javier chose to see his son one last time, writes W.J. Hennigan. He kissed him and touched the wounds that the morticians had labored to close. Then he looked at his boy’s face and requested a lock of his hair. “It was the only part of him that looked real to me,” Javier says. Read more about one family’s grief, after the death of one of the last U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan, at the link in our bio. In these photographs: a lock of Jaguar’s hair; a folder containing his autopsy report; a Godzilla toy that was shipped home with his remains; Jaguar’s official Army portrait; a stack of his letters; one of the cards sent to Sylvia by her students; photos from throughout Jaguar’s life; and one of Jaguar’s Bibles. Photographs by @pvanagtmael—@magnumphotos for TIME


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