About 150 attend Jenny Oropeza’s annual Memorial Tribute

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 memorial-day-long-beachAt a Memorial Day tribute that stirred both pride and sadness, Sen. Jenny Oropeza honored locals who died while serving their country.

“Those we’ve lost will be remembered by a grateful nation,” Oropeza, D-Long Beach, said after the nearly two-hour ceremony attended by about 150 family members and friends of local servicemembers killed overseas. “They put aside life’s comforts and their youthful dreams, asked their families to wait for them, and never came home.”

At today’s tribute, family members of five service men accepted California flags that have flown over the state Capitol in Sacramento, resolutions to the families of each man killed in action, and thank-you letters written by grade-school and junior high school students.

During the tribute, Redondo Union High School’s JROTC band filled the James R. Armstrong Theatre in Torrance with patriotic music.

The following men are gone, but will never be forgotten:

Sgt. Robert T. Ayres, III, 23, of Los Angeles who served Army’s 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division. Ayres was killed Sept. 29, 2007, in aBaghdad house after pushing his men out of the way of gun fire.

Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Curreri, 27, of Los Angeles who served with the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne). The former University of Southern California swim team captain drowned Oct. 27, 2007, in an off-duty accident in thePhilippines while serving as a Green Beret.

Cpt. Matthew Ferrara, 24, of Torrance who served in the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Ferrara diedNov. 9, 2007, in Aranus, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Israel Garcia, 24, of Long Beach who served in the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Garcia died July 13, 2008, when his outpost in Wanat, Afghanistan, was attacked by small-arms fire and grenades.

Staff Sgt. Stephen Maddies, 41, of Carson who served in the National Guard’s 473rd Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar Platoon. Maddies died July 31, 2007, after a small-arms fire attack near Baghdad.

Sgt. David Nunez, 27, of Los Angeles who served in the Army’s 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group. Nunez, a Green Beret, died May 29, 2008, of injuries incurred by small-arms fire while conducting combat operations in Shewan, Afghanistan.

Spec. Lester G. Roque, 23, of Torrance who served in the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. Roque diedNov. 10, 2007, after being attacked by direct fire from enemy forces in Aranus,Afghanistan.

For more, visit Oropeza’s Web site below.

Elected to the 28th Senate District in November 2006, Jenny Oropeza is one of the highest-ranking Latinos in the Legislature and chairs the Senate Majority Caucus.  For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/oropeza.

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