PASADENA (CBS) — Family and friends of a fallen Marine gathered at a park in Pasadena Saturday to remember his life and his ultimate sacrifice.

Marine Lance Cpl. Rogelio Ramirez was killed while fighting on the front lines of Iraq nearly five years ago when the vehicle he was riding in exploded. He was 21.

“They were firing at us and he was the first one to open fire but he also did save my life. And he was guarding my vehicle and died six hours later,” recalls Nathan Bradshaw, his closest friend.

Bradshaw told CBS2’s Melissa Maynarich that he wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the quick actions of Ramirez. The Military told his parents he did not suffer.

“He said, ‘I am going over there to defend all of you so you can have your barbeques, so you can enjoy yourself, so you can have your freedom.’ He said, ‘somebody’s got to do it and I’m doing it for my family,’” said Irene Ramirez, Rogelio’s mother.

She said Rogelio was so proud to be a Marine and remembers her son as pleasant but gutsy, a leader but an honorable Marine, a young man whose smile lit up the room.

“I grew up and just took them for granted but now I really see and appreciate what they’ve done,” she said.

Maynarich reports that the family has gathered at the park every Memorial Day weekend since Ramirez’s death and they say they will continue the tradition for as long as they live.

They welcome anyone who supports the troops to join them.


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