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Alex Jimenez given hero’s burial

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After being wrapped in a cloud of uncertainty and grief for the last 15 months, the family of Sgt. Alex Jimenez can finally begin to heal.

Jimenez, whose remains were found in Iraq last month after more than a year of searching, was laid to rest Saturday at the National Cemetery in Farmingdale, L.I., following funeral services at Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Corona.

Scores of mourners and fellow service members gathered at the church shortly before 9 a.m. to pay their final respects to Jimenez, who had been missing in action since May 2007.

Jimenez's cousin, Reynolds Kairus, described an unwavering dedication the soldier had for fighting for the innocent and suffering — a notion Jimenez told him he picked up idolizing superheroes like Superman and Batman as a child.

"He told me, 'Obviously, I can't put on a cape and fly through the sky, but I'm going to do the closest thing to it and join the U.S. Army,' " Kairus said.

Outside the church, friends and family overcome by grief sobbed and shouted to the sky as prayers were read over a loudspeaker. The services took place less than a block from Sgt. Jose Gomez Place, a portion of 104th Street named for the 23-year-old Corona native killed April 28, 2006, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad.

Jimenez, who grew up less than a block from Gomez, was the fourth U.S. serviceman from the area to die in Iraq since combat operations began in 2003.

City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst), who has known the Jimenez family for nine years, said the communities of Corona and Jackson Heights have been strong in the face of the harsh realities of war.

"We've really pulled together in this community," Monserrate said. "But we've paid a very heavy toll."

Jimenez disappeared May 12, 2007, when his team was ambushed by insurgents, the U.S. Defense Department said.

The search picked up in early July, according to the Defense Department, when the Army captured a suspected terrorist July 1 who knew where the soldiers' remains were. The suspect's information led investigators to a site near Jurf as-Sakhr, Iraq, eight days later, where the remains were found.

The remains were flown to a forensics lab in Dover, Del., July 8 and confirmed as belonging to Jimenez and Pvt. Byron Fouty, who was also captured in the ambush, the next day, the department said.

Jimenez is survived by his mother, Maria del Rosario Duran; father, Ramon Jimenez, who lives in Massachusetts; wife, Yadelin Jimenez, 24; and five brothers.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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