BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Bakersfield said goodbye to Augie Flores, a 98-year-old World War II veteran who continued to serve his community long after the guns of war fell silent Friday morning at Saint Francis Catholic Church.

Augustine Joseph Flores didn’t just live a life of service, he lived multiple lives of service.

There was Augie Flores, orphaned at age 12, joining the U.S. Marines at 17 and just a few weeks later finding himself in the middle of the 20th century’s defining conflict. 

His son James, fifth oldest of his nine children, said his father was thrust into war without a lot of preparation. 

“He always said he was kinda like the guinea pig, cause those were the first ones to go out,” he said. “You know, they had just got out of boot camp. No training. ‘You’re going.’”

He went to the South Pacific, where he was wounded twice in battle.

“All of a sudden his rifle went flying and the rifle was shot out of his arm,” James Flores said. “He looked and he could see he had a hole right through his arm. … The captain asked him, Flores, are you all right?”

He was surprised the captain knew his name.

“(The captain) said, ‘You need some morphine.’ And (Flores) said, ‘No, you save it for the other guys, you save it for the other guys.’”

Augie Flores got patched up and went back out – only to be wounded a second time, this time by shrapnel.

“It barely missed his spine,” James Flores said. “I think it went through his canteen and missed him.”

In 1951 Augie Flores married the woman who would be his wife of 65 years. And in October 1952 he joined the Bakersfield Police Department. Officer Flores, badge number 203, stayed on until 1958, when he joined the Kern County Probation Department. In 2017, a year after his wife Ruth’s passing, he and his son James visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., as part of an Honor Flight. He’s the guy in the Marine Corps cap.

“He loved that hat,” James Flores said. “He was proud to be a Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

Granddaughter Mariyah Flores heard a few of those stories, but to her he wasn’t a war hero so much as just grandpa.

“He had so much love for his family, his community, his choir,” she said.

Flores sang with his church choir, even after suffering a debilitating stroke a few years ago. It was therapeutic in more ways than one.

“Today they showed up for him,” Mariyah said of the choir. “They sang beautifully.”

To hear her tell it, her grandfather had no shortage of fans.

“Even growing up, going to restaurants, everyone loved him, he loved everyone,” she said. “He was a people person.”

Flores died Sept. 21 and was interred at Greenlawn Northeast Oct. 7. He leaves a younger sister Jessie, eight living children and too many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to count.

He was a World War II Marine, a Bakersfield Police Officer, and a Kern County Probation officer. Augie Flores was proud of all those careers, but the one he was proudest of – father.”