Those we have lost

Sgt. First Class Cedrick Garin, 23: Found calling in protecting Israel

Killed while fighting in southern Gaza on reserve duty on January 22

Sgt. First Class (res.) Cedrick Garin, 23, killed in the southern Gaza Strip on January 22, 2024. (courtesy)
Sgt. First Class (res.) Cedrick Garin, 23, killed in the southern Gaza Strip on January 22, 2024. (courtesy)

Sgt. First Class (res.) Cedrick Garin, 23, from Tel Aviv, was killed while serving in the southern Gaza Strip on January 22.

Garin was among the 21 soldiers killed simultaneously when his team came under RPG attack, triggering a blast that collapsed two buildings with soldiers inside.

He is survived by his mother, Imelda, father, Rico, and wife, Daniela. He was laid to rest on January 25 in Tel Aviv’s Givat Shaul military cemetery.

Born in Israel to Filipino parents, Garin was raised by a single mother who worked as a cleaner while raising her son in a foreign country. His father was deported by Israel when Garin was two years old. Rico returned to Israel 22 years after his deportation to pay his final respects to his son.

“What a warrior,” his wife Daniela said tearfully at his funeral. “You weren’t afraid for a minute, you didn’t think twice — and where are you now, my darling? Where are you now, my handsome?”

During his last year of high school, Garin dropped out and got in trouble with the law, before turning his life around and fighting to enlist in the IDF and serve his adopted country. After pleading with officials to draft him, he ultimately became a combat soldier in the Givati Brigade.

Toward the end of his service in 2021, he earned a certificate of distinction from the head of the IDF’s Southern Command; he received citizenship following the completion of his regular army service.

Family members of Israeli-Filipino soldier Cedrick Garin, one of 21 soldiers killed in a single incident while in combat in the Gaza Strip on January 23, react during his funeral at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv on January 25, 2024. (Marco Longari/AFP)

Speaking at the funeral, Garin’s 11th-grade teacher, Omri Gur, addressed the fact that the media was portraying his former student as a reformed criminal, asking people to change their perception of him.

“In 12th grade, you lost your way,” Gur said. But, he noted, Garin was determined to use his military service as a lifeline: “Your story is not one of a young criminal who changed for the better,” his teacher said. “It is a story of an outstanding young man, a wonderful young man, who made a mistake and fought to return to himself again… and I will not let anyone tell this story differently.”

His close friend Armias Geneo said that when they met in basic training, “Cedrick told me that they tried to put him in the military police. But it wasn’t enough for him — he wanted a more meaningful military service. He wanted to be a combat soldier! He stayed put and drove them crazy… and in the end, he got on the Givati bus.”

“He was a perfect fighter,” Geneo added. During their service, Garin stopped a terror attack in Hebron during a military operation there, shooting the would-be terrorist in the leg.

Daniela Garin speaks to visitors as she mourns her husband Cedrick in Tel Aviv on January 29, 2024. (Maya Zanger-Nadis/Times of Israel)

“The reason he didn’t shoot the terrorist in the head,” said his friend, “is because there were civilians and children behind him.”

Garin’s ultimate goal was to provide financially for his mother Imelda so that she could stop working. He was happily married and looked forward to one day becoming a father. He wanted “a messy house full of children and noise,” wife Daniela recalled during the funeral.

Garin hoped to pursue a career in security, he told the IDF website in 2021 after he received a certificate of distinction: “I discovered [during my IDF service] that I love it… Every time I am guarding… I feel like, ‘Wow, people can sleep in peace because of us. Because I am here.’ That’s what I want to do my whole life.”

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