Funeral held for pregnant soldier

November 19, 2009 (CHICAGO) Velez, 21, was described as a happy young woman, always excited and especially so about her pregnancy. She loved her family and her country.

Hundreds of mourners passed through the funeral home in the 6900-block of West Belmont to pay their respect Thursday.

Velez served in Korea and in Iraq over her three years of military service. She was back home because she discovered she was nine weeks pregnant. She was filling out paperwork when she was murdered.

"I joined up first, and she joined up six months after I did. We never got to serve in the same unit, but we were together at heart," said Sacha Ramos, friend.

"She was like a second daughter to me, a beautiful person. Everybody will remember her how she was. She was beautiful, unique. She was wow. And I hope everybody remembers she was a beautiful person," said Sylvia Velez, friend.

"A great American, she stepped up to the plate to join our Army at a time when the nation needed her the most," said Major Gen. Scott West, U.S. Army. "And serving in the Army today, people knowing that they are probably going to end up in combat and that the conditions are tough and know that, she chose to step forward and serve the nation, and in my book that makes her a great American hero."

Gov. Pat Quinn attended the funeral service.

"She volunteered to go to a dangerous place in Iraq and a dangerous mission and to protect democracy. We thank her for her life of service. It was very, very sad. I think the people of Illinois today, all of us, are very sad to lose a special human being," said Quinn.

"It was a nice tribute to see the neighborhood and the community and the support they got," said Pam Marzec, mourner.

"Very tragic, sad event. What do you say? Unnecessary," said Jerry Sciaraffa, mourner.

Following the funeral service, there was a long procession to Mount Olive Cemetery for a graveside service with full military honors where mourners paid tribute to the soldier and the baby she carried.

On Wednesday, members of the Junior ROTC from Kelvyn Park High School filed into a Northwest Side funeral home to pay their respects. Velez graduated from Kelvyn Park in 2006.

Private Velez served in Iraq, where she drove fuel tankers.

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