Sorrow filled the hearts of family, friends and community members who mourned the life of a local fallen soldier Wednesday.
Earlier this month, 23-year-old Sgt. Juan Navarro was killed by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
"It kills me to know that's he's gone,” friend Veronica Ramirez said. "I know that he is in a better place now and his memory will all live within us, with his family. In my heart, he will always live in my heart."
Navarro attended Lanier High School in North Austin. Abel Lopez was one of Navarro's best friends. In Spanish, he says the Austin native was a compassionate human being with common-sense intelligence.
"Oh man, pos una persona bien hermosa," he said.
The fallen soldier wanted to continue to help others when he was done serving his country.
"He was anxious to get out and he wanted to help people. He wanted to be a nurse, he wanted to go to school and be a nurse to help his people," Ramirez said.
The Patriot Guard Riders help escort bodies of soldiers killed in combat. To them, the words on the back of one rider’s shirt, “Freedom isn’t Free,” is much more than just a saying.
"There are a lot of us who are veterans, some of us are not, but we're just here to honor the family and the sacrifice," rider Robert Stancil said.
In all, 1,875 personnel have been killed in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Navarro joined the Army in 2008. He served a tour in Iraq before serving in Afghanistan. He planned to leave the Army this year.
Sgt. Navarro was laid to rest in Killeen.