Fallen Oberlin Soldier Remembered

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By Autumn Ziemba, Fox 8 News Reporter

LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — A soldier from Oberlin has made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sgt. Louis Torres, 23,  died on Aug. 22 from wounds he received 16 days earlier, while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense said Sgt. Torres was critically injured when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Kandahar.

"We truly look at our staff as family and when that comes into play, we look at our students as a part of that family," said Jill Petitti, principal at Lorain County Joint Vocational School, where Torres graduated in 2008.

Torres studied law enforcement during his two years at JVS, and left a lasting impression.

Petitti had to break the news to the staff Friday morning, on the teachers’ first day back to school.

“There were tears today,” Petitti said, “and there will continue to be tears."

Teachers honored Torres with a moment of silence Friday, and lowered the flag to half staff.

“(Louis) was excited, he was passionate, he was one of those students who, when he talked, he talked from his heart," Petitti explained.

"I was in shock," said Torres’ civics teacher, Joe Csizmadia, when he heard the news.  “This would be a young man that we would hold up as a great image for the JVS, someone that cared about the community, cared about his family, cared about who he was and what he did for this country."

The soldier’s former English teacher, Pam Mitchell, echoed the sentiment.

“We knew that there was such a nice future for him and it's a tragedy that his wonderful life was cut so short," Mitchell said.

But Torres’ legacy will live on. 

The soldier’s photo is proudly displayed on the school’s Wall of Honor, and some of the teachers are considering adding his name to their 9-11 memorial.

Torres’ family is bringing his body back home from Texas, where he had been hospitalized.