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Corona remembers fallen hero

Several hundred Corona residents lined the streets last weekend to honor the memory of a neighborhood soldier whose remains were found in Iraq last year by renaming a portion of the block on which he grew up in his name.

The family and friends of Sgt. Alex Jimenez stood under umbrellas amid a large crowd of community residents Saturday morning for the unveiling of a new street sign at the corner of 37th Drive and 104th Street in Corona. The block was renamed Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez Way just nearly one year after Jimenez’s remains were discovered near Jurf-as-Sakhr, Iraq.

“It’s hard for me to do this ceremony,” said Maria del Rosario Duran, Jimenez’s mother. “I’m asking God to make me strong.”

Jimenez had disappeared May 12, 2007, after his team was ambushed by insurgents, the U.S. Defense Department said. The soldier had been missing for more than a year, but the Army captured a terrorist suspect in July last year who led investigators to remains that were later confirmed as belonging to Jimenez and Pvt. Byron Fouty, who had also been captured, the department said.

For nearly one year, Jimenez’s family prayed for his safe return at a makeshift memorial in the rear of their home that included the soldier’s picture, candles and a crucifix.

State Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) said the community had been hit especially hard by the war. Sgt. Jose Gomez, who lived down the block from Jimenez, was killed in April 2006 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee. A portion of 104th Street has been renamed in his honor.

“Our neighborhood has suffered a great loss,” Monserrate said. “We want to recognize the life and legacy of one of our homeboys from the neighborhood. I want to thank his parents for raising an honorable young man.”

Family and friends stood by the family during the street renaming ceremony last weekend, while more than 30 representatives from veterans groups American Brotherhood and Patriot Guard blocked off the street. Neighbors watched the ceremony from their front stoops or windows or lined up along the street.

“He paid the ultimate price by giving his life to protect our liberties and freedom,” state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Corona) said. “Alex Jimenez not only served our country proudly, but he served us all proudly.”

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

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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