LA PUENTE – As a child, Douglas La Bouff liked to run around the neighborhood in Army camouflage, re-creating historic battles, pretending to launch attacks and rescue wounded soldiers. “He participated in some of the country’s greatest military campaigns, right here in the neighborhood of La Puente,” said Army Capt. Robert Medina, a close friend of La Bouff’s. More than 250 relatives, friends and military personnel gathered at St. Joseph Catholic Church in La Puente on Saturday to pay respects to La Bouff, a 36-year-old Army major killed Jan. 7 in a helicopter crash in northern Iraq. In what officials said was the deadliest crash in almost a year, La Bouff and seven other soldiers, along with four American civilians, were aboard a Black Hawk helicopter flying between bases when communications were lost with the aircraft. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. La Bouff is survived by his wife, Karen, and their 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. He received a full military burial with a gun-salute Saturday. Members of the Patriot Guard escorted mourners to the cemetery. La Bouff had strong ties to the community. Born in Baldwin Park, he attended St. Joseph Catholic School and received all his sacraments at the church. He graduated from Bishop Amat High School, coached football at La Puente High School and lived just a few doors from La Puente Councilman Louis Perez. La Bouff was against drinking alcohol, and in high school started Friend to Friend, an anti-drug, anti-alcohol program, for which he received a Congressional Gold Medal. Former California Rep. Esteban Torres, who said he has known the family for years, recalled that La Bouff charmed the politicians in Washington, D.C., when he went to receive his medal. “The senators took to him,” Torres said. La Bouff was a history buff, majoring in the subject in college and graduate school. He dreamed of getting his doctorate and teaching history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. La Bouff served two tours in Korea and in March, he volunteered to serve in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Carson, and was deployed to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was a top intelligence officer. Jim La Bouff remembered his younger brother, who was named for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, as a “happy kid” who wanted to join the military from a very young age. Douglas was passionate about military history and liked to talk about progress being made in Iraq. “He knew the risks, but he was willing to assume them in service of his country,” he said. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!