Friends, family, and local residents paid their respects to Private First Class Alejandro Pardo, who was killed in Afghanistan two weeks ago. Dozens gathered on Sunday afternoon as Pardo’s body was flown into Porterville Airport.
The 21-year-old soldier died on July 8 when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Friends of Pardo say he was a fun person, who was proud to serve his country.
Pardo's mother Kate Pardo says said in a statement, "the loss of life is both tragic and inevitable, but it is as A.J. said of his service, 'if not me, who?'"
The Patriot Guard riders escorted Pardo's body from the airport to the funeral home. Pardo joined the U.S. Army three years ago shortly after he graduated Granite Hills High School in Porterville.
"This is one of our boys," says David Prestage, a Porterville resident. "It's an absolute honor, it's the least we can do."
Pardo's funeral will be held on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church. A graveside service will follow at Home of Peace cemetery. The Patriot Guard riders plan to head to the funeral at 8:30 on Tuesday morning from Bakersfield Harley Davidson.
Friends and family can also honor Pardo's life at a rosary on Monday at 6 p.m. at Holy Cross Catholic Church.