Hundreds say farewell to a soldier from the north valley. The day before we celebrate our independence the realities of war became evident. A north valley family has to bury a son who did two tours in Afghanistan. Sergeant Jose Rodriguez from Gustine was killed in combat in late June.
Outside the church stood flags. And not just one, but many. It's a reminder of the sacrifice made here by one of their own. Sergeant Jose Rodriguez died fighting. It was his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
"He's a good example that freedom is not free," said Bernard Ramos.
It was a private ceremony of nearly 600 people. Ian Harte did his first tour with Jose in Afghanistan. He says everyone called Jose "Rod".
"He was one of the happiest guys. He was so happy to serve," said Harte.
His brother tells us Jose died doing what he loved; fighting for his family and country. The procession would span miles. The procession was led by motorcycles and by a full police and sheriff's escort. The casket was brought to a fitting place, a place for other heroes, the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella.
And so a day before we honor our independence we are reminded of what it costs. Rodriguez leaves behind a wife and a 1-year-old son.