What was once his field of play at Elk Grove’s Florin High, has become a field of tribute for fallen Army Specialist Ray Ramirez.
The 20-year-old was killed June 1, when an improvised explosive device hit his unit in Afghanistan.
Now his boots adorn the place where he once slugged it out with the Florin Panthers.
“He died for all of us here today, for our freedom and his name. His story will never go untold,” Matthew Moore, a former coach of Ramirez’s, said Tuesday.
“He had your back through thick and thin. he was a good friend,” said Chris White, a former teammate.
Ramirez’ s mother was too emotional to speak on camera.She would only say her son was perfect and deserves honor.
His father and step-mother were keenly aware of the high standard their son reached for in all things.
Three years ago, when Ramirez decided Army life was the life for him, it was a hard moment for his dad to grasp.
“Proud, but it scared the [expletive] out of me, too,” said his father, Jose Ramirez.
Ray Ramirez had pledged to keep the frightening part of war away from his family.
“He said, ‘When I come back from Afghanistan, I don’t want to talk about anything,'” step-mom Hope Aguirre remembered.
Now that the horror of war has come home, they’re amazed at how much people want to talk about him.
“It’s overwhelming how much people loved him,” said Aguirre.
They’re also in awe of the driven, leader they got to enjoy as a son.
“It’s the most precious thing to you in the world. Nothing can replace it,” said Ramirez.
In addition to being a soldier, Ray Ramirez was a big brother to two brothers and a sister.
He was slated to be in Afghanistan for nine to 13 months and was killed just three months into his tour.
He’d already re-upped for four and a half more years with the Army.
Germany would have been his next duty station.
Friends and family will hold another vigil in his honor on Wednesday, June 5th, at the Tahoe Tallac Baseball Diamonds.