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By Kristina Davis and Angelica Martinez
San Diego Union Tribune

POINT LOMA, Calif. - In a sweet and steady voice, 11-year-old Yvette Borjas read aloud the letter she penned to her father and placed in his flag-draped casket.
"You will always be my No. 1 and my handsome dad. I love you and I will always do my best for you, I promise."
Her message brought tears to many in the crowd of about 1,000 mourners at the Rock Church who gathered yesterday to honor the life of 33-year-old Federico Borjas, a San Diego police officer and a sergeant in the Army Reserve.
"Rico," as his family and friends called him, was killed Oct. 16 in Afghanistan when his convoy was ambushed by a gunman disguised as a border patrol officer. The former Marine signed up in 2007 to join the Army Reserve and had been deployed less than a month before he was killed in action. It was his first time serving overseas.
The nine-year police veteran is the third member of the San Diego Police Department to die in combat. Thirteen more San Diego police officers are deployed as military reservists, along with about 17 other law enforcement officers countywide.
Mayor Jerry Sanders, who was among the first speakers, said Borjas "served with distinction, as all of us knew he would."
Family members and colleagues shared stories of a man they described as a courageous American hero who volunteered repeatedly to serve his community and country and won people over with his movie-star smile. It was his daughter, however, to whom he was most devoted.
The story of Borjas' life unfolded in a slide show of photographs: as a child with his brother and sisters, growing up in a small Florida town; as a teenager, flexing his muscles for the camera; as a father, having fun with Yvette; as a correctional deputy with the Sheriff's Department; and as a San Diego police officer, posing in his SWAT gear.
Borjas also was a member of the police department's color guard, which helped officiate yesterday.
"His beaming smile and can-do attitude has done more to make this world a better place than many have done in a lifetime," sheriff's Lt. Dave Myers said.
San Diego police Officer Dan Walters recalled his former partner's ambition to get his college degree while working a full-time job as a patrol officer. In 2003, Borjas earned his bachelor's degree - the first in his family to do so - in legal studies from National University.
"He talked of becoming an FBI agent or prosecuting attorney," Walters said. "I really loved him, and I'm proud of him. I know we all are."
Brother Raimundo Borjas, wearing a yellow corsage like the rest of his family, was at a loss for words at one point and struggled to maintain his composure.
"My little brother has always been a hard charger - when he said he's going to do it, he did," the older Borjas said. "He's in the glory of God now."
His father, Jose Borjas, got laughs when he told the story of how Rico lovingly restored a "junk car" when he was in high school. Later he asked his father to drive it from Florida to San Diego when he joined the Marine Corps. But weeks later, after all that, Rico totaled the car in a crash.
Borjas is also survived by his mother and two sisters.
After the funeral, a procession of hundreds of police cars, motorcycles and SWAT vehicles from around the state made its way to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, where Borjas was buried with full military honors.

Wire Service
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