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Fallen Marine Laid To Rest

Family, Friends Remember Sgt. Matthew Mendoza

SAN ANTONIO -- A San Antonio Marine was laid to rest Saturday, a little more than a week after he died on patrol in Afghanistan.

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June 29, 2008

From the service at Our Lady of Perpetual Hope to the graveside ceremony at San Jose Cemetery, the flag he fought and died for was everywhere.

"Matthew was a good kid. It was something he wanted to do, being in the Marines, and he excelled," friend Chris Richmond said. "He excelled at everything he did."

Mendoza was killed June 19 by an explosive while on patrol with his unit in Afghanistan.

"It's a tough time -- a tough time for everybody," Richmond said. "It really hit home today."

Friends and family remembered Mendoza for his devotion to his country and his passion for football.

In 2004, KSAT-TV spoke with Mendoza at a high school football game, just before he left for Iraq.

"It's good to do things you used to do (like) watch the ballgame on Friday nights. This is a big stress reliever -- coming out here and hearing the bands (and) watching the kids cheer," Mendoza said.

Friends of the family said this was Mendoza's third tour of duty. They said he didn't have to go back overseas but chose to serve his country one more time.

"He didn't have to go back, but he wanted to go back with his guys. That's the kind of guy he was," Richmond said.

"He was a good Marine. He did what the country wanted him to do. He'll never be forgotten. He'll always be in our hearts -- always," Mendoza's cousin, Austin Duerr, said.

Mendoza was a third-generation military man.

He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and great-grandfather.

Mendoza leaves behind a wife and a 6-year-old son.