Tucsonans turned out in droves today for the funeral of a hometown hero.
More than 1,000 people packed an East Side church to honor Army Spc. Christopher Moon, the 20-year-old former high school baseball star who turned down a sports scholarship to the University of Arizona to serve in Afghanistan.
It was one the largest military funerals the city has seen since current wars began.
“We come not just to mourn but to celebrate a very special life,” Randy Hammonds, Moon’s pastor since childhood, told mourners.
Moon “was a star in every category,” as a soldier, a a sports figure and an individual, Hammonds said.
Oscar Romero, Moon’s baseball coach at Tucson HIgh Magnet School, confessed to a week of weeping after he learned of his former protege’s death.
Moon died July 13 at a military hospital in Germany, several days after stepping on a roadside bomb in Arghandab, Afghanistan.
“He let baseball go because there was a bigger cause,” Romero said of Moon’s decision to quit sports and don a different kind of uniform.
Moon was a paratrooper and sniper with the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He is the 46th service member with ties to Tucson and Southern Arizona to be claimed by conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the 12th member of the Navajo Nation felled by the two wars.