A fallen Long Beach soldier was laid to rest Friday in private services after hundreds gathered at Holy Family Catholic Church to pay their respects.

Sgt. Israel Garcia, 24, was killed July 13 when his outpost was attacked by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in the Wanat area of Afghanistan, according the Department of Defense.

Garcia, who was stationed in Vicenza, Italy, with the Army's 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, was on his third tour in Afghanistan and would have returned to Italy in two weeks.

Word of Garcia's death came on the day his wife, Lesly, was preparing to go back to Italy.

"She was scheduled to leave, going back to Italy on Monday, July 14. They gave us the news of his death Monday morning," said her sister, Hilda Revolorio. "She wanted to go home and get the house ready for him."

Lesly spent the next two weeks preparing for his memorial service.

"The service was amazing. It was exactly how he would have wanted," Revolorio said. "I know he was looking down saying, all these people came through for me. My sister said that her husband would have been happy about how things went and how he was honored."

Father Samuel Rendon delivered the eulogy and served communion to mourners at the church where Garcia had attended since childhood.

"This is the family church that he attended since his family moved here from Mexico," Revolorio said.

"He requested this church if anything were to happen to him."

The flag-draped coffin was slowly rolled out of the church sanctuary and lifted into a hearse by friends and family, including his 16-year-old brother Ramsses Garcia.

"There are no words to describe him. He was loved by everyone," Revolorio said. "We will miss his smile, his great sense of humor. He will be truly missed."

The Poly High graduate, who loved soccer and horses, always wanted to join the Army, serve his country and be remembered.

"He always said he wanted the world to remember him as a hero, and that's all we ask," said Revolorio. "He fought and trained so hard for this nation."

Dozens of The Patriot Guard Riders, a diverse mixture of motorcyclists from across the nation, many of them, veterans, attended the memorial service.

"Our purpose is to respect our fallen heroes and, if necessary, protect the family from protestors," said Riders Southern California Coordinator Craig Donor.

No protesters were present.

After the services, the Patriot Guard Riders presented the Garcia family with a wooden plaque made by one of the riders with Garcia's name and a "fallen soldier statue" carved on it. Each rider's name was personally signed on the back.

Revolorios said that since Garcia's death, the family has been overwhelmed by the support of so many.

"On behalf of my family, the Revolorios and the Garcias, we would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support. Everyone has been there for us since the day we found out," she said.

"Everyone has gone out of their way to make sure we had all the love and support we needed during this difficult time. There are times like this when you see who your true friends are and, as we saw today, we have a lot of them."

Garcia was buried at a private service at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach.

He is survived by his wife; his parents, Victor and Maricruz Garcia; and his brother.