Hundreds gathered at a local church Monday to honor a fallen soldier from Alden. Sergeant Brett Gornewicz was killed earlier this month while serving in Afghanistan. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti was there as friends, family and the community said goodbye.
ALDEN, N.Y. — A ceremony filled with memories of 27-year-old Sergeant Brett Gornewicz filled St. John the Baptist Church in Alden Monday.
Though Sergeant Gornewicz attended Alden Presbyterian Church, he touched so many lives that his funeral needed to be in a larger space.
"Brett was the most selfless person I ever knew. He was always putting everyone else's needs in front of his. He would go broke every holiday season because he wanted to get everybody he knew a gift," said Cassandra Cranston, Sergeant Gornewicz's sister.
Sergeant Gornewicz kept the same group of friends from his childhood, who say they'll always remember his smile.
"He loved to laugh and more importantly, he loved to make other people laugh. Unfortunately, for most of his friends, it was at our expense," said Robert Jasmusz, his friend.
Loved ones say Sergeant Gornewicz never wanted to be in the spotlight, but he earned a pretty big claim to fame as a child.
"That cute, little impish grin was photographed by Fisher Price toys. Yes, Brett was featured on the Chicken McNugget Playset," said Rev. Katherine Evans, pastor of Alden Presbyterian Church.
The Gornewicz family says they're very grateful for the way the community has responded to their loss.
"It's been overwhelming and emotional just to see how much love and support the city of Buffalo has provided us and our family," said Cranston.
And although friends and family say he would have hated being the center of attention, they say it's just what their true American hero deserves.
"You will not find a group of friends more proud of a friend than we are of you, Brett Gornewicz. Thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and most importantly, your friendship. God bless you, rest in peace, I love you man," said Jasmusz.