Every year, the Kern chapter of the American Red Cross honors people in our community who do extraordinary things. Army Sergeant Christopher Muniz was killed in December, while fighting in Afghanistan. He died when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device
Muniz was a graduate of Cuyama Valley High School. 17 News reached out to Muniz's family, but never heard back. We take a look back at his service to our country and the outpouring of community support following his death.
A sea of motorcycles rumbled through Meadows Field Airport in December. Many riders, veterans themselves, paid tribute to one of their own.
"When the ground rumbles, when the motorcycles fire up, you know you've got something good," said Jeremy Staat, Iraq War veteran.
Patriot Guard riders gathered to honor Muniz, killed in Afghanistan on December 11th. "We offered our condolences to him and his family and let them know we're here for them whatever we can do," said Abraham Moreno.
The pain was visible on the faces of family members, friends and even strangers, as a plane arrived carrying Muniz's body, the day after Christmas.
"It's really emotional, especially when you see the plane come in and the ceremony they do to bring the body out of the airplane. It's just emotional," noted Staat.
Veterans held flags to honor the fallen soldier's service. "When someone passes away like this, an untimely death, it's a heart breaker. You lose a part of yourself," said Matthew Moreno.
Two days after his body came home, supporters packed the streets to salute the soldier's journey back to his final resting place in New Cuyama.
"Wasn't afraid to tell somebody he loved them. He was like a second son to me cause he lived with me quite a bit," said Biff Charlton.
Biff Charlton was Muniz's high school football coach. He said the 24-year-old was loyal and hardworking. Muniz died about a week before he was going to return home to spend Christmas with his family.
With heavy hearts, Charlton and his players filled the Cuyama Valley High auditorium for a memorial to remember a young solider, who made the ultimate sacrifice.