Some waved American flags, others saluted, while many watched in silent prayer as the hearse carrying the body of a fallen soldier from Rancho Cucamonga and his family following in separate vehicles processed through the Inland Empire Monday afternoon.
People lined the streets of the route in order to pay their respects to Army Spc. Alex Joseph Ram as the motorcade traversed from Ontario International Airport to Stone Funeral Home in Upland.
Ram, 20, died Feb. 1 in a non-combat incident in Tell Beydar, Syria, according to a statement from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The young soldier was assigned to B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division of out Fort Carson, Colorado. Ram’s unit was deployed to Iraq and Syria in September as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a campaign against ISIS fighters in the region that is supporting Kurdish forces, according to his obituary and a Department of Defense statement.
The U.S. Army did not report how Ram died but said the incident was under investigation.
Ram graduated from Alta Loma High School in 2019. The procession Monday afternoon slowed in front of the high school on Base Line Road, where about 70 people stood on the sidewalk to honor the hometown soldier for his service.
Alta Loma High School Principal Jason Kaylor turned to social media to ask alumni and residents to honor Ram by lining the street in front of the high school.
Ram is the second former student from area schools to be killed while serving in the military in less than a year. Lance Cpl. Dylan Ryan Merola, 20, was one of 13 U.S. service members who died in the bombing of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 26, 2021.
A procession attracted large crowds for Merola on Sept. 21, nearly five months ago. Merola graduated from nearby Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, also in 2019. About 300 people attended his funeral at Forest Lawn in Covina about a week later. Merola’s brother, Branden Murrell, was outside Alta Loma High on Monday to honor Spc. Ram.
“I am supportive of the military. Just like people were for my brother,” Murrell said.
“I am able to pay my respects and as I see the family driving by, it gives me respect for the families that came by and supported us,” he added.
Merola’s mother, Cheryl Rex, and sister, Olivia, were also there honoring Ram on Monday, as were firefighters from nearby stations with a truck extending the ladder and hoisting a large American flag. Some veterans wearing camouflage outfits saluted as the procession went by.
Most didn’t know Ram but wanted to acknowledge his service and pay their respects to a member of the military. Some were part of the community who has now lost two soldiers in half a year.
“I just wanted to add my heart cries with Alex Ram’s family and friends,” said Ruth Torres, whose son served in the U.S. Marines and is now a police officer in Arizona. “Spc. Ram has paid the ultimate sacrifice. Let’s not forget that,” she said.
Ram is survived by his father, Kaiser W. Ram, his stepmother Joani O’Brien-Ram, his mother Vickie Lam, his older brother Nicholas W. Ram and his sister Victoria N. Ram, according to his obituary.
Services will be held on Feb. 21 at 11 a.m. at Stone Funeral Home, 355 East 9th Street, Upland. To share condolences, go to www.stonefuneralhomeupland.com or dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/upland-ca/alex-ram-10582060.
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