SUFFOLK—Rose Tuazon wiped away tears Tuesday afternoon as friends draped an American flag over the coffin that cradled her son, Army Pfc. Andrew Tuazon.
Her husband, Ron Czypinski, wrapped an arm around her waist to comfort her while pallbearers lifted the casket and walked it down the center aisle of Suffolk's New Hope Baptist Church.
Andrew Tuazon was killed by a sniper's bullet on May 10 while serving in Mosul, Iraq.
"Somebody raised a good boy. Andy was the best that his country had to offer," said the Rev. William Russell, the church's pastor. "He may not be anybody else's hero, but he's our hero."
Andrew, a Hampton Roads native and military police officer, was deployed to Iraq on March 6 with the 293rd Military Police Company, 3rd Military Police Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Ga.
Iraq was his second tour in the Middle East. Last year, he spent more than six months in Afghanistan.
"This young man answered freedom's challenge," said Brig. Gen. Robert Cone, director of the Joint Center for Lessons Learned with the U.S. Joint Forces Command. Cone represented the Army at the funeral.
While he didn't know Andrew personally, "I have great respect for his generation of soldiers," he said.
Andrew earned the respect. He received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, an Army Commendation Medal, a Good Conduct Medal and several unit citations.
Friends remembered Andrew as a jokester with a boyish smile who brimmed with energy.
Cameron Harvey, a childhood friend, said Andrew was everyone's friend at Western Branch High School. He graduated in 2001.
"He took bad sides of no one," Harvey said.
His stepbrother, Richard Czypinski, agreed.
"I never, never knew him to be upset or depressed," he said. "Andy was always with a friend, coming in or going out, or on his cell phone. He loved his cell phone."
He also never missed church when he came home to visit, once driving all night from Georgia to attend.
"He slept all the way through Sunday services," the pastor said.
Andrew's faith was evident. His right arm was adorned with a cross tattoo, his left arm with a tattoo of Jesus Christ.
"I was home visiting the week he got the tattoos. When I saw what the tattoos were, I said, 'That is a statement,' " Richard Czypinski said.
"Who would go to the trouble and pain of getting a tattoo if they weren't making a statement?"
Andrew's last statement arrived in the mail two days after his death, a Mother's Day card sent from Iraq.
Rose asked for someone to read his note during the funeral so others could share his final written words.
"I want to let you know that you are very special to me. You are my world, mom," he wrote.