Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sgt. Juan P. Navarro, United States Army, KIA

Juan Navarro passed away on July 9, 2012, at the age of 23, in Afghanistan when he was attacked by enemy forces with an improvised explosive device.

Juan was a native of Austin, Texas and graduated from Lanier High School in 2007. 

Juan joined the United States Army in June  2008 and completed his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.  He was an infantryman and warrior leader.  At the time of his death he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.  He was on his second tour in a combat zone, having served in Iraq in 2009. His many military awards included multiple awards of the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal.  He also had been awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

Juan's flag draped coffin was returned to his hometown, by charter jet, on July 16.  On hand to honor and receive him were the Patriot Guard Riders who stood at attention as the flag draped coffin was moved from the plane to the waiting hearse.

The Riders, and Officers of the Austin Police Department, escorted the hearse across town to the Cook-Walden Funeral home, where the Riders again stood at attention and saluted as the coffin was moved from the hearse to the funeral home.

Funeral services were held on July 18 at the funeral home where the Riders formed a line of American flags at the entrance to welcome the many family and friends.

After the service, the Riders and the Police led the procession to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Killeen, Texas.  When the procession arrived there, it was welcomed by fifty American flags along the roadway, blowing briskly in the Texas wind.

The flag draped coffin was slowly carried from the hearse to the committal shelter by the Army Honor Guard and the Patriot Guard Riders surrounded the shelter with a line of America flags.

Major General Anthony Ierardi, Commanding General of the First Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood Texas, led the United States Army Honor Guard in the rendering of full military Honors.

The Honors began with Gen. Ierardi presenting the Bronze Star medal and the Purple Heart to Juan's parents.

The Army  detail   of six rifles fired three volleys of fire representing Duty, Honor and Country.  The Army bugler played taps, as the gathering stood at attention:  Veterans and Soldiers saluting, all others with hand over heart.

The Honor Guard then carefully folded the flag that had draped the coffin, on its long trip home, into a tight triangle, placed three expended cartridges into the folds, and ceremoniously passed it to Gen. Ierardi.  The Commanding General of thousands of soldiers presented the flag to Juan's parents, Victor and Cristina, on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for their son's honorable and faithful service.

Sgt. Juan P. Navarro, killed in the service of his country, was then laid to rest on the sloping plain of the hill side.  Left to cherish his memory are his parents, eight sisters, two brothers, many aunts and uncles and to many other dear family, friends and fellow soldiers to mention.

Many of the gathered family and friends wore white tee shirts bearing Juan's photo and a poem he wrote about his tour of duty.   On the back of the shirts: "nuffsaid"

"God loves me enough to let me go through all these lessons I came here to learn. Even the ones that hurt the most."
By Sgt. Juan Navarro

With thanks to for biographical information and to Jay James, American-Statesman, and to Casey James, KXAN-TV for additional photographs.

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