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Services are today for fallen soldier
Funeral services for Spc. Benjamin C. Pleitez, the 25-year-old Stanislaus County soldier who died July 27 while serving as a combat medic in Afghanistan, have been set for today.

A Turlock resident who attended high school in Ceres, Pleitez died in Afghanistan while serving as a combat medic with the California National Guard. His death came in Mazar-e Sharif in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced. The cause of death has not been released. An autopsy has been scheduled.

The soldier's body was flown into the Modesto Airport yesterday.

A memorial service for Pleitez will take place at 1 p.m. at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2400 N. Olive Ave. in Turlock. Immediately after the service, graveside honors will be held at the San Joaquin National Cemetery, 3205 McCabe Road, Santa Nella, where Pleitez will be laid to rest.

A reception will then be held at the Gustine Veterans Memorial Hall, 145 5th St. in Gustine.

Pleitez was assigned to the 649th Military Police Company, 185th Military Police Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade, Army National Guard, San Luis Obispo, and attached to the 1072nd Transportation Company, 746th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 224th Sustainment Brigade, Army National Guard, Van Nuys.

Pleitez was deployed to Afghanistan in March of this year, said 1st Lt. William Martin, public affairs officer for the California National Guard. It is believed to have been his first deployment.

Pleitez and his family moved to Turlock in 1999. He attended Modesto Adventist Academy in Ceres and Denair High School. He graduated through an independent study program and went on to earn his emergency medical technician certification.

Pleitez is survived by his parents, Salvador and Diana, and two siblings. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Others from the area have died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Marine Lance Cpl. Juana Navarro-Arrellano, 24, of Ceres, died April 8, 2006 from wounds received while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. She was assigned to 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

Capt. Raymond Dwayne Hill II, 39, also, from the Ceres and Turlock area, was killed in action on Oct. 29, 2005, from a roadside bomb that exploded near his Humvee while on patrol in Baghdad. He left behind a wife, two daughters, his father and several brothers.