Army Spc. William Gilbert, 24, and his unit were attacked with an improvised explosive device on May 14, just days before Gilbert's daughter, Mikayla, was born.
At a service held at Holy Family Catholic Church in South Pasadena, loved ones remembered him as a gentle man who was looking forward to being a father.
"Willie had so much more life to live and the only way he can do that now is through us, our love and our passions," said Gilbert's friend, Brian Zube.
Gilbert was born in Hacienda Heights and grew up in Pasadena. Gilbert's father, Glen, died of cancer when he was 15.
"I think that this time with Glen shaped Willie into the great and caring person that he was as a young adult," Zuber said. "It taught him to be patient, understanding and caring, and even when Glen passed away, Willie tried his best to keep his head up and you rarely saw from the outside how torn up he was over it on the inside."
Friends and family said they will remember Gilbert through his daughter.
"There are the tears of the future for Mikayla when one day the story of her father, the goodness of her father, the gift of her father, will be spoken to her in story through memory," said Monsignor Clement Connolly of Holy Family Catholic Church.
Gilbert was buried with full military honors at Forest Lawn Cemetery next to his father.