It felt somber the minute I heard the cadence music coming from where the memorial to Army 1st. Sgt. Jose Crisostomo was parked.
Today marks the memorial for the 59-year-old Spanaway man who was killed last week in Afghanistan. The viewing and Mass took place at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church.
Driving up, the church’s exterior was lined with Patriot Guard Riders holding American flags. Parked near the church entrance was a Chevy pickup truck, the back of which served as a makeshift memorial to Crisostomo, who was a leader in the local Chamorro community.
If featured the ceremonial boots, rifle, helmet and dog tags, also known as a soldier’s cross. The bed was lined with greenery and Guam flags, a testament to the Chamorro heritage of “Sinbad,” as friends and family called him.
By 9:30 a.m., a crowd of about 200 stood in somber silence as they waited for Crisostomo’s body to arrive. Another set of bike riders with the name “Che’Lu Riders” (Brother Riders in English) on their backs roared to the ceremony.
Crisostomo’s family donned white shirts with red, white and blue armbands. A group of men wearing black T-shirts with the phrase “Grupun Minagof” carried the casket inside the church for viewing.
Grupun Minagof is a local group of Chamorros who help plan fiestas, fund scholarships and perform other community services. Crisostomo served much of the last decade as president of the group.
Inside, a line of people stretched outside to view Crisostomo’s body, as Chamorro hymns played and was sung softly by the 300 or so in attendance.
A Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m., and his burial will follow.