Former BMHS student dies in Iraq
Friends and family describe him as fun-loving and a free spirit traits they now remember most about 19-year-old Reece D. Moreno, who died in Balad, Iraq, Friday.
Moreno spent his entire high school career at Bradshaw Mountain High School, until he transferred to Yavapai County High School at the end of his senior year to graduate early, said his mother Regan Parsons.
"He had the talent to do that," she said.
According to a United States Department of Defense press release, Moreno was not in combat at the time of his death. He was part of the 92nd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
Right before he left to go overseas, Parsons said he asked his girlfriend to marry him.
More than anything, teachers and friends remember Moreno's contagious laugh. His mother said his smile brought joy to everyone.
"He was tremendously well-liked by all the other students," said his U.S. government teacher, George Ponte.
"He was just a really great person to hang out with," recalled Moreno's best friend since sixth grade, Tyler Schreffler. "The first time I'd ever do something, I'd do it with him. We used to make all kinds of silly movies."
With hobbies like playing guitar, bodybuilding and playing sports, Parsons described her son as a sweet boy and a good teenager who always had respect for adults.
The teachers at Bradshaw Mountain received news of Moreno's death Monday morning.
"I knew he was going into the service. I didn't know he was going to Iraq, so it all hit at once," said Athletic Director Maury Ruble, who had Moreno as a student in his English class. "He took a stand and did things a lot of us can't say we have done."
For U.S. history teacher, Larry Haese, losing Moreno was difficult. He said he had a special connection with his student, an individual who enjoyed life and came to class with a smile every day.
"We got along great," he said. "Just a fun-loving kid you could laugh with, you could joke with."
Shock swept the faces of Moreno's former teachers as they spoke about their lost student.
"I don't know if I had any impact on his life ... but he's the kind of kid that's the reason why you teach," Haese said.
However, Haese said Moreno probably didn't have a lot of direction in life and therefore saw the military as a way to guide him. Ponte recalled Moreno talking during his senior year about joining the military. He seemed excited about it.
"He was going to go to college, but he decided not to. It wasn't really his thing," Schreffler said.
Moreno's mother doesn't know why her son joined the army. She said he enjoyed boot camp.
"When he got to advanced training, it was too boring," she said.
Most of all, she said Moreno had a kind and loving heart. He loved to make everyone laugh.
"You wouldn't want to watch a movie without him," she said.
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