FORT MITCHELL NATIONAL CEMETERY, Ala. – Brothers and sisters unrelated by blood, but united by shared military service experience joined together for a solemn ceremony this afternoon. At 1 p.m. mourners gathered for the funeral of SFC Alfredo Guevara, a veteran who died at the age of 88 on April 1, just days after his birthday.
“I needed to make sure I wasn’t the only one here to tell him goodbye,” said retired Master Sergeant Patricia Liddell, who currently works as American Legion Post 333’s national recruiter. Liddell became choked up as she explained that she first heard about Guevara’s death and upcoming service last Thursday, April 6.
After that, Liddell said she only had a matter of days to get the word out.
Over three dozen mourners, mostly former servicemembers, showed up for the service. Many of them did not have any personal relation to Guevara, but came in a show of brotherhood and respect for a fellow veteran. Guevara served in the Army from 1955 to 1976.
“Sometimes, you want to know you have somebody covering your six and you’re not alone,” retired Army SFC Jeff Gibson said.
Willie Greene, a retired Army captain who was also in attendance stated that, as somebody in the military, Guevara was his brother. Greene said that he was there to show that Guevara still had bothers and sisters, even in death.
The ceremony, which was arranged by Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan and Liddell in concert with the Department of Veteran Affairs, included readings and prayers from Army Chaplain Antonio Garcia-Mendez and a 21-gun salute.
Bryan said that Guevara only had one living relative, a nephew in Puerto Rico.
Liddell was given Guevara’s flag, which she said is the third one she has received. According to Liddell, Guevara had a wife who died in the years prior to his passing and she hopes to track down her ashes.
“This soldier retired, he fought for my freedom,” Liddell said. “I stand on his shoulders.”