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Remains of fallen soldier return to IE for burial

November 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The remains of Sgt. Carlo Eugenio returned home to the Inland Empire Thursday afternoon to a crowd holding flags in his honor.

It was a solemn and tearful homecoming for the fallen hero.

Brian Johnson said he last spoke to his brother-in-law before marrying Eugenio's sister.

"He reassured everyone he was going to be safe and he would see us in a little while," Johnson said.

The 29-year-old was killed in Afghanistan Oct. 29 while leading a NATO convoy. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed 17 and injured a dozen more.

Eugenio became the first California National Guardsman killed in action in Afghanistan.

"He wanted to do something that mattered... I think serving in the military gave him that opportunity to make a difference," said brother-in-law David Coplan.

Sgt. Eugenio's family circled his flag-draped coffin in a tearful embrace for the lost son, brother and uncle. With the Patriot Guard in the lead, men, women and children lined the route to salute Eugenio in a final farewell.

Linda Montano of Rancho Cucamonga came to show her support. Her own son is currently serving in the armed forces.

"We have our freedom because of him and all the people who have served in the military. My heart goes out to the mom and the family because that could have been my son," Montano said.

During Eugenio's five years of service, he received several commendations and medals. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously.

Sgt. Eugenio will be laid to rest on Monday at the Riverside National Cemetery.

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