NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -There was a final salute for a fallen hero Friday.

A World War II veteran from Queens was given a proper send-off after losing his life to what his family believes was COVID-19.

Joseph Guagenti, 94, is described as kind, gentle and courageous by those who knew him best.

He made the ultimate sacrifice. Guagenti served in WWII in the Army infantry glider division, was shot in the leg several times. Later, he was awarded two Purple Hearts.


But it wasn’t the battle that claimed his life.

Guagenti got sick in mid-April. Although he was never tested, his family and doctors believe he fought coronavirus for two weeks before passing away on April 26.

“I’m very proud of my grandfather. And I’m very happy and grateful for anyone that has shown up for an American hero. He was an American hero and I want everyone to know that he fought for his country,” said granddaughter Kristie Espinal.

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Friday, the veteran was honored by his friends, family and a motorcade of fellow veterans. Dozens escorted Guagenti to St. John’s Cemetery, where he was laid to rest beside his wife.

“He was married 52 years to my grandmother Anne. She died 11 years ago and they are going to lay together in their final resting place, they will be in heaven together,” Kristie said.

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Kristie spread word of her grandfather’s funeral via social media. Her post gained the attention of the national organization Patriot Guard Riders, whose members attend the funerals of veterans and first responders at their family’s request.

Espinal says they helped make this gloomy day a special one.