Hundreds pay respects to Army Specialist AJ Pardo

FRESNO, Calif.

A huge showing of support as the family of Army Specialist Alejandro Jose Pardo arrived at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Porterville to honor the fallen hero.

Hector Hernandez said, "When something like this happens we have to come and pay our respects to the family."

Porterville resident Hector Hernandez held up a hand-made sign outside the church, as a spiritual leader with the Native American Veterans Association blessed those in attendance with a tribal tradition.

"No matter what nationality we're here for them and the families," Jess Ahumada said. "We take care of our fallen at all times."

Pardo was one of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan, July 8th, when his squad was hit by a roadside explosion.

Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer said, "He sacrificed everything for the safety of his fellow soldiers, the security of our nation and the hopes and dreams of all people for a better place to live their lives."

On Tuesday, Brigadier General Mark Stammer travelled from Fort Bliss, Texas where Pardo was home-based. He described the 21-year-old as an exemplary soldier, and said AJ, as he was called by his friends, was always the first to prepare his vehicle for mission.

Others tell Action News Pardo planned to finish his commitment to the Army, go on to attend college to become a chef and open his own restaurant in Chicago, the home of his favorite baseball team.

Family spokesperson Laura Herzog told Action News, "He was a big huge cubs fan, that's for sure and he wanted to join the army. That's all that he wanted to do and he said, if not me than who?"

On Tuesday, his mother was presented with two awards her son earned for his bravery, a bronze star medal for his commitment to "Operation Enduring Freedom" and a purple heart for being killed in combat.

"It's good to see people come out and show that we respect the men and women that serve our country," Dana Carney said, "They're heroes, they're real heroes and unfortunately today we're laying a hero to rest."

Following mass Pardo's cremated remains were taken out of the church and through an honor guard to the Hope Of Peace Cemetary, where he was laid to rest.

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