Perez family: ‘God needed another soldier and he took the best’
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org July 27, 2012 1:38PM
Harley Hawkins of Valparaiso, a member of the American Veterans Motorcyle Association Chapter 9 and Indiana Patriot Guard, (left) greets Spc. Doug Rachowicz of Hammond outside the funeral service for Spc. Sergio Eduardo Perez at Our Lady of Consolation in Merrillville, Ind. Friday July 27, 2012. Both are members of the 713 Engineer Company, same as Spc. Perez. Rachowicz was injured in a blast that killed four other members of the unit; Hawkins is nearing completion of medical discharge. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 29, 2012 6:06AM
MERRILLVILLE — Hundreds of mourners filled Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church Friday morning to remember the life and service of Spc. Sergio Eduardo Perez Jr.
Perez, who was in the 713th Engineer Company of the Indiana Army National Guard, was killed on July 16 in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, when his vehicle was in the middle of a fight involving rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. Fellow soldier Spc. Nicholas Andrew Taylor of downstate Berne was also killed in the attack.
Perez, 21, was a 2010 graduate of Lake Central High School. He is survived by his parents Veronica Orozco and Sergio Perez; his sisters Candice Perez, Andrea Jimenez and Karyme Jimenez; a half brother, Axel Perez Martinez; and his grandparents, Alicia and Charles Orozco, and Severo and Ramona Perez.
The funeral mass was conducted in English and Spanish by the Rev. Peter Muha and the Rev. Carlos Martinez. Muha recalled Perez’s devotion to his family and country.
“Our friend Sergio spent his life serving his friends, his family and his country,” Muha said.
Perez’s sister Candice Perez recalled the qualities that made Sergio such a wonderful brother and friend — from giving her rides wherever she needed to advising her to stay away from boys.
“He was my personal trainer, bodyguard and best friend — all in one,” Perez said. “He was so friendly and outgoing. He would help out whoever he could. God needed another soldier and he took the best.”
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Guard and Department of Defense officials presented Perez’s military awards to his family. Perez was a recipient of the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge.
Following the service, the funeral procession headed west on U.S. 30 toward Memory Lane Memorial Park in Schererville, where he was laid to rest.