PASADENA ( — Hundreds gathered in South Pasadena today to mourn a local soldier killed in Afghanistan a week before his daughter’s birth.

Twenty-four-year-old Army Specialist William Gilbert, a native of Hacienda Heights, was killed May 14 in the line of duty.

Gilbert, who was stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas, was part of a NATO Convoy on patrol when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. It was his first combat tour.

His wife, Monica, gave birth to their first child last week, a healthy baby girl weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces.

Mourners gathered at Holy Family Church in South Pasadena to pay their final respects before the burial service at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Monica Gilbert presented the flag that draped her late husband’s coffin. Their infant daughter also received a flag and a salute.

Family friend Brian Zuber spoke at a memorial service honoring Gilbert, known to loved ones as Willie.

“It is hard to think that the familiar memories that we have at this moment are the only memories we have with Willie,” Zuber said.

“There is nothing that we can do to bring him back… the only thing that we can do is move forward. Cherish the memories that you have with him and all of your loved ones. It could be taken away at an instant.”


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