Funeral, procession scheduled for Massachusetts Green Beret killed in Afghanistan
By JEANETTE DEFORGE | The Republican | Published: August 29, 2019
CHICOPEE, Mass. (Tribune News Service) — The remains of a Green Beret who was killed in Afghanistan will be flown into his hometown on Labor Day.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Luis DeLeon-Figueroa is scheduled to be flown into Westover Municipal Airport at about 9 a.m. on Monday. A procession will begin at 9:30 a.m. to bring his body to the Curran Jones Funeral Home, 109 Main St. in West Springfield, said Stephanie Shaw, director of veterans services in Chicopee.
He and Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, California, died on Aug. 21 from wounds suffered in small-arms fire in Faryab Providence in Afghanistan. They were both Green Berets assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the Department of Defense said.
The city of Chicopee is asking people to come out to honor DeLeon-Figueroa’s sacrifice when the procession rolls through the two communities, Shaw said.
“The family is hoping to see the streets filled with family and friends and supporters,” Shaw said. “They recognize he was over there for all of us.”
DeLeon-Figueroa leaves his fiancee, two daughters who are 9 and 2, and a step-daughter. He also leaves his grandmother, a sister and his foster family, who all live in Western Massachusetts.
The procession will be led by police from Chicopee, Agawam and West Springfield. The U.S. Army is providing an honor detail for the services, she said.
The Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group will be the only motorcycle group riding in the procession, said Michael Wilk, Chicopee police public information officer.
The route will start on Sheridan Street and then go to Church Street, Front Street and then Center Street in Chicopee. It will then go down Plainfield Street in Springfield and cross the North End Bridge onto Main Street in West Springfield, Wilk said.
“We welcome everyone to show your love and respect for our hero along the route,” Wilk said.
DeLeon-Figueroa’s funeral is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Bethany Assembly of God Church on Main Street. After the services, a procession will travel about one mile down Main Street to the Agawam Veterans Memorial Cemetery, where he will be interred, Shaw said.
Chicopee Green Beret Luis DeLeon-Figueroa killed in Afghanistan to be buried in Agawam Veterans Cemetery
DeLeon-Figueroa, who served in the U.S. Army for 13 years, was killed in Afghanistan.
People are also asked to line the streets of Agawam for the procession, which is expected to begin at about 10:30 a.m. Residents can also walk into the Memorial Cemetery and stand outside the chapel to hear the final service broadcast outside. Parking will not be allowed in the cemetery because there is not enough space, Shaw said.
The Military Friends Foundation is providing thousands of buttons that people are encouraged to wear to honor DeLeon-Figueroa. People can pick up buttons and flags for the procession at police stations in Chicopee, Agawam and West Springfield, Shaw said.
DeLeon-Figueroa died two days before his 32nd birthday. He grew up in Chicopee, attended Chicopee High School and joined the U.S. Army when he was 18.
Friends and family described DeLeon-Figueroa as good-natured and said he overcame some challenges to be successful as an Army soldier. He had tours of duty in Iraq and deployed twice previously to Afghanistan. He became a Green Beret in 2014 and deployed to South America in 2015 and 2018 before going to Afghanistan this year.
A large contingent of members of the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, are expected to travel from Florida to Chicopee to attend the memorial services. Other friends who served with DeLeon-Figueroa in the past are also expected to travel to the services, Shaw said.