He dreamed of being a doctor, but first he became a combat medic. He never got to fulfil his dream, but his family knows he died a hero.
Specialist Rudy Acosta of Canyon Country died from small weapons fire in Kandahar, Afghanistan last Saturday.
On Thursday, family, friends and even some people who had only heard about him gathered at the Baptist Church in Santa Clarita for a hero's sendoff.
Earlier, people lined the streets as his casket was driven to the church and brought into the sanctuary by a military honor guard.
Just before the funeral got underway, U.S. army officers presented Acosta's parents with his Bronze Star and his Purple Heart.
His father described the 19-year-old Acosta as a hero who saved lives in Afghanistan.