Family extols Apopka man killed in Iraq
Stacey Mastrapa, dead from a rocket attack, was to have come home for Father's Day.
By Amy C. Rippel
Sentinel Staff Writer
All Stacey Mastrapa wanted to do was surprise his dad for Father's Day.
After three months at Fort Stewart, Ga., and 13 more months in Iraq, Mastrapa, an Army reservist who lived in Apopka, was supposed to be coming home today for the grand surprise for his father.
Instead, his family in Apopka and throughout Central Florida is grieving his death.
Mastrapa, 35, a sergeant with the military police, died Tuesday when a rocket slammed into a U.S. logistics base near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. Two other soldiers died, and 25 people were injured.
Family members said Mastrapa was a loving family man who cherished the time he spent with his wife, Jennifer, their two children and his large extended family throughout Central Florida.
The surprise homecoming was just another example of what a kind and thoughtful person he was, his family said.
"He wanted to surprise me for Father's Day. We know he was in a barracks when he was hit," his father Arthur Mastrapa, 61, said Thursday night. "He was a joy to have around -- a very good, happy person."
A graduate of Forest Lake Academy and the oldest of three siblings, Mastrapa joined the Army shortly after graduation and served as a member of the military police, first in Alabama and then in Germany.
Once out of the Army, he wanted to continue working for the government, so he became a postal carrier, working in Altamonte Springs. He also joined the Army Reserves.
"He liked being in the military," his brother Mark Mastrapa, 32, said in a telephone interview. "He really loved serving his country."
Cousin Yvette Carrillo, 35, said the Mastrapa family is huge, with relatives in Cuba, Miami, Michigan, Australia and Central Florida. Even with such a big family, Stacey Mastrapa always shone as a positive, tenderhearted and sincere person, she said.
"There was nothing negative about him," Carrillo said.
Mastrapa and his wife of nine years had two children: Marisa, 8, and Reece, 20 months.
His family, too distraught Thursday night to speak about the details of Mastrapa's life, wrote a brief statement about him.
Family members said he loved his family above all and was dedicated to his country.
"He dedicated his life to public service, first in active duty as a military police officer, then as a postal worker and finally as a Reserve MP," sister-in-law Tracey Mastrapa, 30, wrote in an e-mail.
"He was called to serve his country, which he did proudly with the utmost