GARY | U.S. Army Spc. Ricardo Cerros was called an American hero during a solemn funeral in the city where he spent his childhood.
On a blustery Wednesday afternoon, family, friends and fellow soldiers filled the pews at the Cathedral of Holy Angels to remember the life of Cerros, who died while in service to his country.
The organ played "Let There Be Peace on Earth" as the closed casket bearing the body of Cerros was carried into the church by fellow U.S. Army Rangers.
The Rev. Jon Plavcan placed holy water on the casket and said Cerros died with Christ in his life.
"We are gathered here today to say our farewells to Ricardo Cerros, but also we remember his life and what he represented in his life," Plavcan said.
Cerros, 24, of Salinas, Calif., was killed Oct. 8 in Afghanistan while shielding the life of a fellow Army Ranger, Col. Mark O'Donnell said during the eulogy.
"He did not run nor seek shelter. His final act was to protect someone else. ... We will never forget his sacrifice," O'Donnell said.
Plavcan described Cerros as a hero.
"Ricardo is a hero along with others who have died in this horrible war. A hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose. He faced the courageous efforts by going into a new territory to be an example of bringing peace and freedom to those who are held captive," Plavcan said.
Sgt. Thomas MacPherson talked about Cerros' years living in Gary until age 5. Cerros then moved to California to live with his father.
MacPherson said Cerros was small in stature but of the highest caliber of a man.
"I'll try and follow his monumental example," MacPherson said.
Cerros was on his first deployment to Afghanistan and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash.
Cerros is survived by mother Marguerite Cuevas, of Gary's Brunswick neighborhood; father Ricardo Cerros Sr.; brother U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Marco Cerros; stepmother Deborah Cerros; brother Nicholas Cerros; and sister Theresa Cerros, all of Salinas.
Cerros was buried in Ridgelawn Cemetery with full military honors.