Spc. Jose A. Torre, Jr., who died in action in Iraq on January 15th, was a graduate of our local high school.
At 21, he was just a year behind our oldest daughter.
We received an automated message from the principal last night advising that after his body arrived at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station, the family had requested that the funeral procession pass by the high school on the way to the mortuary.
As both a parent and an alumni of the same high school, I wanted to pay tribute to this young man and help let his family know how much their son's service was and is appreciated.
The stirring sight which greeted me when I arrived caused the tears to flow almost instantly. The entire school had turned out and quietly lined the block, with the school's flag at half mast. Uniformed ROTC students lined the sidewalk in front of the administration building. Uniformed athletes and cheerleaders also stood in line to pay tribute.
Parents such as myself lined the opposite side of the street, along with a number of veterans. Police and fire units from all over Orange County were part of the ceremony.
This particular officer came from Placentia:
A motorcycle unit alerted us when the procession was two minutes out. I did not take any photos as the hearse and the family drove by, preferring to stand respectfully with my hand over my heart.
There were dozens of Patriot Riders following the hearse, along with Red Cross vans and more police units, including several from neighboring Anaheim. This is the beginning of the motorcycle escort:
It was an extremely moving experience. Some of those in the cars in the procession could be seen wiping away tears. It's quite sobering to think that just a couple of years ago this young man was another student at the school.
I'm so grateful for fine men like him, and so very sorry for his family's loss.
Update: Good coverage from the Orange County Register. There are 39 photos, including some taken at the field memorial service in Iraq.
My younger daughter was one of the members of the marching band playing the Alma Mater when the hearse paused in front of the high school.
A quote from the article: "(Torre's) mother told me that this wonderful community support has made it possible for them to deal with this tremendous loss."
Update: Thanks so much to Holy Coast and 50 Westerns From the 50s for sharing this story with their readers and helping to pay tribute to Pfc. Torre.
January 30th Update: A local TV news story posted on YouTube includes brief footage of the procession past the high school.
This is a beautiful video tribute.
The Orange County Register published a brief story with photographs of the burial service at Riverside National Cemetery.