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A day to remember

Crowds gather at ceremonies across the region to honor fallen troops.

May 31, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago
(Raul Roa/News-Press )

Nine months have passed since Lance Cpl. Pedro Barboza Flores, of Glendale, was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in southwestern Afghanistan.

For the hundreds of people who gathered at Memorial Day ceremonies across Glendale, Burbank and Montrose, Barboza Flores' life was celebrated among the names of fallen service members, bagpipes, benedictions, patriotic hymns and roses.

Barboza Flores, 27, a recipient of the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, was less than two months into his first tour with the Marines when the improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.

"This year has been especially hard for our family," said his sister, Aurora Alamillo. "He missed his first Christmas, his first Mother's Day. Even though he was already in his mid-20s when he joined, he was still my little brother."

Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, his family moved to the United States when he was 1. A student at Glendale High School and Glendale Community College, "Pete" joined the Marine Corps in March 2008, was promoted to lance corporal in December and was crewman in a light-armored vehicle.

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He was deployed in June to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, and died July 11 alongside Master Sgt. Jerome D. Hatfield, 36, of Axton, Va. Barboza Flores was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in the 2nd Marine Division for the II Marine Expeditionary Force.

His bereaved family joined hundreds of people Monday at Isabel Street and East Broadway in Glendale. Master of Ceremonies Larry Zarian, noting the historically large crowd, recognized a large contingent of veterans on hand before turning his attention to families who lost loved ones.

"I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am, how appreciative I am, on behalf of our committee and on behalf of the veterans that are here today," Zarian said. "There are veterans out in the audience that are injured from their time in the service. And there are those that would rather be here today, but they're not, and their names are on the walls instead."

Mayor Ara Najarian followed the color guard, flag salute and prisoner-of-war/missing-in-action memorial, presented by retired Lt. Col. Dave Worley, of the U.S. Air Force, with a special note to a group of veterans whose uniforms had an unusual look.

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