CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Members of the Chicopee veterans community are remembering Master Sergeant Luis DeLeon-Figueroa, a Chicopee native killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Flags in Chicopee have been flown at half-mast, and the fallen U.S. Army solder’s body was returned to U.S. soil on Friday. It was a rainy day at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as the bodies of Master Sgts. Jose Gonzalez and Luis DeLeon-Figueroa were returned home.
Vice President Mike Pence was there during the dignified transport of the two Green Berets, brought back from Afghanistan, after being killed during small arms fire. Master Sgt. Deleon-Figueroa was killed just shy of his 32nd birthday, on Friday, August 23.
“Way too young to go like that, you know, I just don’t know what to think about it,” said Robert Murphy, a veteran in Chicopee.
Mayor Richard Kos ordered flags flown at half-staff in Chicopee and spoke at a city celebration asking for a moment of silence on behalf of the fallen soldier.
“I ask each and everyone one of you to bow your heads and reflect on the sympathies for his family and what they are going through,” Kos said.
Chicopee’s Veterans Services director said she has been working with a casualty assistance officer and DeLeon-Figueroa’s family as they prepare to bring him home.
“He grew up in Chicopee, he graduated Chicopee High,” said Stephanie Shaw. “Actually, today is his birthday. We had a moment of silence in his honor. Chicopee is really good about making sure we honor and remember those that we have lost and taken care of those gold star families that are left behind.”
The monument to the war on terror in Chicopee remembers the names of six residents who were killed in acts of terrorism. DeLeon-Figueroa becomes the fifth service member from the city killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans in Chicopee hope they will be able to honor the soldier once he is returned home.
“People to come out on the day they bring his body back to town,” Laurie Benoit, veteran, told 22News. “Stand there and honor the man that died to keep you free.”
The Veterans Services agent in Chicopee said she believes the master-sergeant will be returned to Chicopee early next week, and if the family wishes, information.