The family of Lusio Castellanoz Ahumada, killed in action in the Korean War, gathered around his grave last week at the Tulare cemetery to remember him.
A red flag, representing blood shed in war, rested on a table for family and friends to sign their names.
Alicia Castellanoz, 82, of Tulare talked about the brother she lost more than 62 years ago.
“My brother never drank, never smoked, never cussed,” she said. “He had a girlfriend to come home to, but he never made it.”
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He died Feb. 23, 1953, six months before the armistice was signed. He was 22.
Alicia said she was at the family home on South S Street in the Tulare barrio when the news arrived by telegram.
Their mother, Dominga, was hanging clothes on the line when she saw the taxi driver bringing a telegram, which could only mean one thing.
“(The neighbors) heard my mother screaming,” Alicia said. “She was hanging onto the clothes line.”
Weeks later, a train carrying Lusio’s casket arrived in Tulare. The family was waiting and they looked inside the rail car.
“You could see the coffins that they had inside, with the American flag draped on all those coffins,” she said.
Their father asked if he could bring home the casket.
My brother never drank, never smoked, never cussed.
Alicia Castellanoz, sister of fallen U.S. Marine Lusio C. Ahumada
“The mortuary person said, ‘You can have it, it’s yours,’ ” Alicia said.
At the funeral, “the whole town turned out because they knew him to be such a good person,” she said.
His brother Peter Castellanoz was a student at Lincoln School when Lusio visited wearing his Marine uniform.
“I’d invite all my little buddies” to come see him, he said. “I just love my brother. I always remember him and always will.”
Lusio’s younger sister Reina Castellanoz was about 5 years old.
The way she remembers it, two uniformed soliders came to the home and told them Pfc. Lusio Ahumada had been killed in action.
She remembers the train that brought the casket to Tulare.
“The sound of the train is the saddest thing to me, even now,” she said. “My brother died for me and everyone living right now.”
Lusio’s brother Joe Castellanoz was 11.
When Lusio came home on leave, someone asked if he wanted to move to Mexico so he could avoid the war, he said.
Pfc. Lusio C. Ahumada United States Marine Corps Dec. 13, 1930 - Feb. 23, 1953
“He said, ‘I am not a coward,’ ” Joe recalled. “ ‘Yes, I love Mexico. If we lose that battle in Korea, where do you think they’ll attack next? They’ll use Mexico and step right into here.’ ”
Family friend Earl Limon joined the Army about the same time as Lusio. Before Lusio left for Korea, they went to a bar and said goodbye to each other, he said.
Limon had also served in Korea, and returned to Korea in 1991 for an Army reunion. Before leaving, he visited Lusio’s mother.
“She gave me some money, for some flowers,” he said.
He went to an old battle zone where the Marines had fought and placed flowers on a hillside in honor of his friend.
Veteran Jimm Mooney is active in the KIA Honor Flag organization, which honors families that have lost loved ones in war by giving them a flag at ceremonies.
“I can’t right the wrong but I can present the flag to you,” he said. “It’s through services like these that we keep the memory of the fallen alive.”