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Local Sailor, Killed in Iraq, Honored

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Ceremony honors fallen sailor. Pomona man died while serving in Iraq.

<b><font color=CC99F...
cesar_o._baez.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x292

Caption for first photo: Cesar O. Baez poses for a photo in Iraq. Cesar died June 15, in the al-Anabar province in Iraq as a result of enemy small arms fire.

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Ceremony honors fallen sailor

Pomona man died while serving in Iraq

By Sara A. Carter

Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 - CLAREMONT - It was Cesar O. Baez's job to tend to wounded Marines on the front lines in Iraq.

The Navy corpsman grew up in Pomona, dreamed of being a doctor, was father to three little girls with big brown eyes like their dad's and was waiting for the birth of his first son. He went to Iraq to serve his country and died there during a combat mission near the Syrian border.

Hundreds of friends, family members and strangers said goodbye to him and thanked him for his sacrifice Tuesday at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church.

"I will miss my son more than words can express," said Cesar Baez, Baez's father. "He was a great child, hero and father."

Hospital Corpsman Second Class Baez was killed June 15 by small arms fire while he was with a Marine patrol conducting a combat operation in the al-Anbar province.

The 37-year-old corpsman's wife, Rosanna, pregnant with their fourth child, walked solemnly behind the casket which was carried by his father, two brothers, friends and family.

Cesar Baez clutched the rail of the casket, where his first born son's dog tags hung loosely from its side. His mother, Bernardina Baez, tearfully watched as her son was carried away from the same church in which he was baptized.

On Monday, Baez had been honored with a full military funeral and gun salute at Camp Pendleton, attended by hundreds of mourners and servicemen. Tuesday's service was mainly attended by family and friends.

"Monday was the hardest day for me," Baez's father said crying. "When I heard that bugle playing it was very difficult. It's too hard to say goodbye."

Residents from around the Inland Valley also attended the funeral Mass to offer comfort to the family. One by one, strangers walked up to Baez's parents and wife, hugged them and thanked them for their son's valor.

"I can't find the words to say thank you," said Dr. Bob Carpenter, a WWII veteran, who lives at the Western Assemblies Home in Claremont where Bernardina Baez has worked for more than 20 years. "Your son is a true hero."

The Rev. Thomas Welbers prayed with the mourners and asked them not to forget the sacrifices that Baez and others like him have made.

"In Cesar's hands when he touched the wounded ... the healing power of Christ was in his hands," Welbers said as he spoke of the 14-year veteran whose job it was to treat wounded Marines and enemy soldiers. "We are here to celebrate that Cesar did the same thing Christ did Cesar found the courage to die for others."

Cesar Baez said he has found hope in the grandson who is to be born in September.

On Thursday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger remembered Baez for his bravery and courage. In honor of Baez's sacrifice, the Capital flags were flown at half-staff.

"Maria and I want to join all Californians in expressing our sympathies to Cesar's family," Schwarzenegger said. "He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and we are forever indebted to him for his service."

As the casket was carried out of the church, five Veterans of Foreign Wars from World War II stood under the blue sky and gave the young soldier one final salute.

The family plans a private internment.

Sara A. Carter can be reached by e-mail sara.carter@dailybulletin.com or by phone at (909) 483-8552.

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Bernardina Baez

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Bernardina Baez...
bernardina_baez_holds_her_husband.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x352

Bernardina Baez holds her husband Cesar Baez Sr., of Pomona, after he placed his sons coffin inside a hearse as he holds a cross that was placed on top of the coffin during a service at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez, 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Pallbearers Carry the Coffin

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Pallbearers Carry th...
pallbearers_carry_the_coffin.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x293

Pallbearers carry the coffin of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr. into Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. Baez, 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Dog Tag

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Dog Tag...
the_dog_tag.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x269

The dog tag of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr. is tied to his coffin at a sevice for him at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. Baez, 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Father Thomas Welbers

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Father Thomas Welber...
father_thomas_welbers.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x345

Father Thomas Welbers blesses U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr. as his father Cesar Baez Sr. stands next to his sons coffin during a sevice at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. Baez, 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Widow Rosanna Baez is Comforted

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Widow Rosanna Baez i...
rosanna_baez.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x327

Rosanna Baez, the wife of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez, 37, is comforted after a service at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez, 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Dr. Bob Carpenter

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Dr. Bob Carpenter...
dr._bob_carpenter.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x286

Dr. Bob Carpenter, left of Claremont, hugs Cesar Baez Sr., of Pomona, as he attends a service for Cesar's son at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr., 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Bernardina Baezand and Her Husband

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Bernardina Baezand a...
bernardina_baezand_and_her_husband.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x289

Bernardina Baezand and her husband Cesar Baez Sr., of Pomona, lower their heads in prayer at a service for there son at a service at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr., 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Pallbearers Carry the Coffin (2)

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Pallbearers Carry th...
pallbearers_carry_the_coffin_of_u.s._navy_hospital_corpsman_cesar_baez_jr.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x243

Pallbearers carry the coffin of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr. out of Our Lady of the Assumption as he gets one more salute by the Veterinarians of Foreign Wars in Claremont June 28, 2005. Baez, 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Pallbearers Carry the Coffin (3)

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Pallbearers Carry th...
pallbearers_carry_the_coffin_3.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x265

Pallbearers carry the coffin of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr. out of Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. Baez Jr., 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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Coffin Escorted

by DJ Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:29 AM

Coffin Escorted...
the_coffin_of_u.s._navy_hospital_corpsman_cesar_baez_jr._is_escorted.jpg, image/jpeg, 271x390

The coffin of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Cesar Baez Jr. is escorted in Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont June 28, 2005. Baez Jr., 37, was killed by small arms fire in the Al-Anabar province of Iraq on June 15, 2005. (Thomas R. Cordova/Staff Photographer)

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