Private Francheska Velez was supposed to come home to see family and friends this month.
Instead, the 21-year-old who had just finished a tour in Iraq and returned to Fort Hood, Texas, was one of 13 soldiers shot and killed in a massacre on U.S. soil last Thursday. Her return became a memorial of her short life.
"Getting out of here is the best thing to do, but sometimes you're not even safe doing that. Violence finds you everywhere. It's crazy," said Augusto Rios.
Three months pregnant, Valez was about to go on maternity leave from the Army and had celebrated her birthday by surprising her mom with a visit this past August.
"She had the most outstanding personality ever. She'll make you smile even if you're down, and I don't think she deserved this, because she had more to look forward in life," said her friend, Lizahira Navarro.
Velez graduated from Kelvyn Park High School in 2006, and on Monday her former classmates gathered to honor her memory. As they held candles and tried to comfort her family, friends said it's hard to imagine life without her.
"She's in our hearts. She's a true angel," Navarro said.