84 / 67
      85 / 70
      80 / 66

      Staff Sergeant Altamirano's widow recalls hardships after husband's death

      Olga Morillon long remembers her cousin Kevin Cardoza wanting to join the military even as kids.

      She never imagine he would die doing what he loved.

      "He's a strong and brave man," she said.

      The 19-year-old had plans to join Ranger School after his reenlistment in the Army when he, along with four other American soldiers, died in an IED blast in Afghanistan on Saturday.

      His family has been trying to remain strong.

      "That's something that Kevin would want for all of us, to be strong and to honor him with every honor that he deserves," Olga said.

      Specialist Cardoza, who graduated from Edcouch-Elsa High School in 2011, leaves behind two daughters ages four and two.

      Olga says Dalilah and Melanie are a constant reminder of all that is good in their father.

      The family plans to do everything to make sure they grow up knowing that dad was a hero.

      "He's a father that loved his daughter's very much and loved his mother very, very much and his father and his brothers that he left behind and his little sister," Olga said.

      The soldier's body is expected to arrive in the United States sometime this week.

      Specialist Cardoza will be buried with full military honors.

      But his family will still need help, according to Pamela Altamirano, widow of another slain Edcouch-Elsa graduate SSGT. Estevan Altamirano.

      "They need support from our community," she said.

      Pamela remembers how difficult this was for her own family in the days after her 30-year-old husband died in Iraq in 2011.

      "When I found out the news, I was no good to my family," she explained. "I was grieving."

      She thinks about Specialist Cardoza's family and the reality they'll face with expenses not covered by the military.

      "I had children... I had people coming in and out... I could not cook for them," she said. "I could not go out to the store and buy toilet paper or simple necessities that can help these families at that time."

      Pamela hopes people will find it in their hearts to support them like they did for her.

      It is a wish that appears to be coming true as the community rallies behind the family of the latest Valley soldier to die in the line of duty.

      "It's making us strong as well because we have a whole community that's coming together in this very, very hard moment," Olga said.