A memorial parade was held on Sunday to honor fallen Gunnery Sgt. Diego Pongo of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion in Camp Legeune, N.C. He was killed last month in Iraq but his family had to postpone his memorial service due to restrictions on large gatherings to help to slow the spread of the Corona Virus.
The family was surprised by a police helicopter flyover, followed by approximately 1,500 law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks and cars outside their home.
The parade lasted for more than two hours while cars drove by blasting music with kids waving flags out of the windows. People gathered on the sidewalk while following social distancing measures, according to Sgt. Patrick Zayicek cited by the Associated Press.
Also in attendance was U.S. House of Representative (CA) candidate and former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and Raytheon executive, Mike Garcia. He said on Twitter: “It was a privilege to be a part of this morning’s parade to honor Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo and pay tribute to his family…”
1/ It was a privilege to be part of this morning's parade to honor Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo and pay tribute to his family. Diego is a Marine from Simi Valley who was killed last month while fighting ISIS in Iraq. Let us never forget the men and women… pic.twitter.com/784uwrgHxe
— Mike Garcia (@MikeGarcia2020) April 26, 2020
Pongo, 34, and another marine, Capt. Moises A. Navas, also 34, of Germantown, MD were killed, March 8 during a mission to eliminate a stronghold for the Islamic State Group in Iraq.
Pongo was an advanced sniper, a foreign weapons instructor and a combat marksmanship leader who was fluent in multiple languages, Marine Raider Regiment Commanding Officer Col. John Lynch said.
Pongo’s awards include a Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device, a Purple Heart, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, the Army Valorous Unit Award, four Good Conduct Medals, two Humanitarian Service Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, a MARSOC release said.
Pongo is survived by his daughter and other family members.