GUADALUPE - It was a somber day for many in Guadalupe as family and friends paid their last respects to a local U.S. Navy sailor who died two weeks ago.
21 year old Emmanuel "Manny" Meraz was killed in Bremerton, Washington on June 23 after the pickup truck he was riding in struck a tree.
Investigators say the driver of the truck, who survived, fell asleep at the wheel.
Hundreds of Meraz family members and friends attended the funeral mass and burial at the Guadalupe Cemetery Friday morning.
"It's very sad but at the same time, we're very proud of him", says Meraz' great uncle Ray Solis, "very proud of him, he was a special young man."
A full-dress Navy honor guard from the Naval Air Station at Lemoore was on hand to perform its duty to a fellow sailor who died serving his country.
"Some of us have done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and lately we've been getting a lot of Korean War veterans, " says First Class Petty Officer Christopher Bright who led the honor guard detail, "its never easy to see a brother or sister have to get laid to their final resting place sir."
Manny Meraz was a Third Class Petty Officer and logistics specialist aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, the aircraft carrier was at Pugent Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
Manny Meraz grew up in Guadalupe and attended local schools.
He graduated from Righetti High School in 2008 where he was on the football and wrestling teams.
As the large crowd at the Guadalupe Cemetery gathered around his flag draped casket, the honor guard performed the solemn and traditional military salute to the fallen, TAPS, that dates back to the Civil War.
"This kid knew what he wanted", Solis says about Meraz, "he wanted to be a teacher, he wanted to be in the military and he was doing it, the young man knew what he wanted in life."
Last year Petty Officer Meraz was selected "Blue Jacket Sailor of the Year" and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal last March.
Wednesday, June 5 2013 5:40 PM EDT2013-06-05 21:40:27 GMT
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