GRIEF STRICKEN Mother weeps for her lost soldier

When Martha Clark, the mother of slain Specialist Jonathan Rivadeneira, saw her soldier son’s flag-draped coffin at the front of the funeral ceremony, she laid her body across the casket and wept.
For nearly 10 minutes, the Jackson Heights mother stayed prostrate on the casket as loved ones continued with the memorial proceedings, and finally, her sister Rubiella Ruiz coaxed Clark back to her seat.
By Clark’s side sat Rivadeneira’s young wife, 21-year-old Heather Nied, who flew from her home in Chicago with her parents for the funeral. The couple had met during boot camp - she was in the National Guard and he in the Army - and married in 2005.
Nied called her husband bright and caring, breaking down as she spoke to mourners at the burial site on Tuesday, September 25. Still, she managed to imbue her talk with hope for healing.
“Remember to hold onto the good times,” she told her husband’s friends and family, as well as a handful of mothers of fellow slain, missing, and active soldiers in Iraq.
After Rivadeneira’s death, Clark held a nine-day vigil for her only son at the home of Maria del Rosario Duran, mother of missing Specialist Alex Jimenez. This summer, Duran along with other soldier mothers and local supporters founded a support group to help the women find solace in one another and remember their children.
Rivadeneira, 22, had been an Army medic with aspirations of a career in medicine after finishing his service. His mother had said previously that he enlisted to pay for his medical education. He was due back home in November, his family said.
On Friday, September 14, Rivadeneira was killed in Baghdad, Iraq, along with three other soldiers, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) said. The soldiers had been assigned to the 6th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas.
During Rivadeneira’s funeral mass, held at St. Joan of Arc on 35th Avenue in Jackson Heights, where he had attended some elementary school, mourners offered up a Prayer of the Faithful for the young soldier’s comrades.
“For all the men and women, especially those serving in Iraq, let us pray,” the lectern read.
Outside, dozens of American flags lined the solemn street as the Army’s honor guard carried his coffin to the hearse.
More than 40 Patriot Guard riders - on motorcycles and cars - led the funeral from the Church to St. Michael’s Cemetery in Astoria, where Rivadeneira was buried.
Patricia Labanowski, one of the Guard members, drove all the way from Orange County, N.J. for the service.
“You don’t have to be in the military. You do not have to ride a motorcycle. You just come and pay your respects,” she said.

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