Family mourns slain Porter Ranch soldier

PORTER RANCH, Calif. Twenty-nine-year-old Jair De Jesus Garcia is now one of the 4,673 American fighting men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For Garcia's family in Porter Ranch, the death toll is a personal grief-stricken reminder that our troops are still at war a world away, and like their loved one, they are still dying.

"Right now, my heart is with my son, and my mind is with all of the mothers that have children there now," said Maria Avneri, Pvt. Garcia's mother.

"We are very proud of him," said Garcia's sister, Celeste Rodriguez. "And even before he left, I told him he was a hero."

Army Private Garcia joined the Army a year ago at the age of 28, older than many new enlistees. However, his family says he had a passion to serve his country.

Less than two months ago, he was deployed to Afghanistan. Last Friday, August 1, he and three others in his unit were killed when a roadside bomb exploded during a mission.

"I talked to him before he passed away. I told him that I love him, that I was real proud of him, and that, 'I'll see you soon,'" said Rick Garcia, Jair's brother.

Maria said she received an e-card from her son. It was a card he sent from Afghanistan. She got it Monday night, four days after his death.

"Because this conflict is just and right, I have no doubt that we will prevail, so don't worry about me -- I'm on the side of the angels," read the e-card. "Hi Mom, just wanted to thank you for all the prayers and love."

Twenty-nine-year-old Army Private Jair De Jesus Garcia -- gone, but never, ever forgotten.


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