PICO RIVERA – At a Mass at St. Hilary Catholic Church, graying war veterans and friends and relatives knelt and prayed Friday for U.S. Army Sgt. Arthur A. Mora Jr. and the two soldiers who died with him in Iraq. “They are our brothers who went through baptism by fire. It is important for us to be here today,” said Richard Briones, a Korean War veteran from Pico Rivera. Mora, 23, was killed Oct. 19 when his patrol vehicle was hit by enemy fire in Balad, Iraq. Two fellow soldiers, Army Spc. Russell Nahvi, 24, of Texas, and Army Pfc. Jose E. Rosario, 20, of St. Croix, died with him. Mora had been in Iraq since July and hoped to be home in December to celebrate the holidays with his wife and three children, including a son who was born Oct. 11. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week During Friday’s solemn Mass, attended by close to 200 people, Mora’s family led the congregation in prayer. The Rev. George Madella provided words of comfort to Mora’s mother, Sylvia Mora, and his two sisters and brother. “This is my first Mass for soldiers who were in Iraq,” Madella said. “When I saw the age of the soldiers and realized they were only in their 20s and had sacrificed so much, I thought they had sacrified their lives for a greater cause. “They are people with a lot of courage who gave their lives, and we must remember it is not important how many years we have lived. What is important is how we live our lives.” Mora was based at Fort Stewart, Ga., and was a member of the Army’s 5th Squadron, 7th Calvary Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. He was buried Oct. 29 at Fort Meigs Cemetery in Perrysburg, Ohio, where his wife and three children live. Family members said it was gratifying to have so many tributes paid to Mora, a 2000 El Rancho High School graduate, who joined the Army with his mother’s permission in his senior year. “In Perrysburg, it was so nice, so beautiful,” Sylvia Mora said Friday. “There was an honor guard, people on the sidewalks waving flags, and policemen, firemen and veterans saluting him. “Now here, with a lot of family and friends, we are honoring him again so everyone can see what kind of person he was.” Valerie Hernandez, Mora’s cousin, said she would have preferred that the young man who was always happy and hugging people had come home to his family. But the pride she felt made her loss easier, she said. “He used to like cleaning up at the American Legion on Durfee and being around veterans,” she said. “He had a passion for this and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.” Mora is the third soldier from the Whittier area to die in Afghanistan or Iraq. Pfc. Joseph Cruz, 22, of Whittier was killed Oct. 15 in Bagram, Afghanistan, from non-combat injuries. U.S. Army Medic Paul Nakamura, 21, of Santa Fe Springs was killed in June 2003 when his ambulance was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. According to the U.S Department of Defense Web site, as of Friday 2,035 U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq. [email protected] (562)698-0955, Ext. 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!