A fallen soldier's two wives meet for the first time at his funeral. KGET-TV's Heather Hope reports.
Army Specialist Moises Gonzalez was laid to rest Monday, but his death opened up a secret he had kept from family: He had never divorced his first wife, which was news to his second wife.
Both attended the funeral service -- not speaking to each other but sitting together in the first row -- yet only his first wife received the U.S. flag presented by the military, NBC affiliate KGET-TV reported.
Ruth Bayona, who married Gonzalez in 2010, earlier told KGET that she wasn't even contacted by the military about his death in a rollover accident on April 25.
Instead, the military contacted Darlene Garcia of Los Angeles, Gonzalez's first wife, and said she would receive survivor benefits as well as the service flag.
Bayona, who lived with Gonzalez in Bakersfield, Calif., had hoped she would at least receive the flag, but Garcia's family made the point that it should go to them since Garcia bore Gonzalez's first child.
"This woman hasn't been in his life for years and the only reason she's coming out right now is because of the benefits," Bayona told KGET. "I was with him during thick and thin for three years and he's not here to say anything to explain himself. I should get the flag, not her."
Bayona also has a son by Gonzalez, as did a third woman who attended the service but was never married to Gonzalez, KGET reported.
Bayona said Gonzalez last year had told her about his first marriage but insisted that he had filed for divorce years earlier.
A casualty-assistance officer broke the news to her after she flew to Delaware to claim his body. "The JAG made a decision that she's the first wife so she’s the one who’s going to be recognized as the wife," Bayona told KGET, "just because of the years of the marriage certificates."
At the church service in Huntington Park, Calif., Bayona was in a state of disbelief.
"I feel like he's still in Afghanistan," she told KGET.
After the service, Gonzalez's father said he didn't want the feud to take away from his son's legacy.
"He died giving his life for the country he loved," KGET quoted Carlos Gonzalez as saying. "Like everything else in life we are here with his family. All of them."
More content from msnbc.com and NBC News:
- Cops shoot mom, knife-wielding son in New York City
- Video: Mom recalls rescue from car dangling off bridge
- Lawyer testifies heiress meant payments as gifts to Edwards
- Addicted to your cellphone? Nomophobia on the rise
- Juror's 'experiment' threatens Polo Club founder's conviction
- FBI: Bodies identified as missing mother, daughter
- Guess the most porn-crazy city in America