Friends who attended the memorial service at Nueva Vida Church, 33-66 54th St., recalled him as a mischievous and spiritual man, who enlisted as a path toward a career in the New York Police Department.Franco Mattei, owner of a deli where Bustamante worked during summers for four years, said his outgoing personality and natural leadership ability would be missed."It hurt a lot," Mattei said Monday, when he heard the news of the death. "It was a beautiful life that was taken away. A lot of sadness that he leaves behind a wife and three kids."Bustamante was traveling as a gunner in a Humvee in Baghdad when an explosive device blew up near his vehicle Feb. 1, killing him and two other soldiers, military officials said.Bustamante was born in Colombia, then moved as an infant to Corona, later attending IS 66 and Flushing High School. In 2003 after the Iraq war began, he joined the Army, officials said, and was on his second tour of duty with the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment in the Army's 101st Airborne Division.Mattei said Bustamante came back from his first tour with descriptions of horrific scenes of the war. Yet Mattei, who attends the Queens Christian Center Church of Corona, the same church as Bustamante, said religion provided some solace to the soldier's friends ."It is a loss, but there is an inner peace that one day we will be together again, which gives us comfort," he said.Bustamante leaves behind his mother Gladys Ciro, brothers Carlos and Omar, wife Daniella, young twin boys Gabriel and Xavier and infant daughter Annalyse, officials said. He lived with his wife, who had also been in the military, at Fort Campbell, Ky., friends said. Omar is on active duty in Iraq and returned home for the funeral service, they said.The Colombian and American flags hung side by side this week from his mother's apartment balcony in Corona as her family mourned the death.Bust
©2006 Community News Group
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