By Andrea Lucia, CBS 11 News

DALLAS ( – Army Staff Sergeant Omar Aceves never saw himself as a hero.

At his funeral service Friday afternoon, his wife said she knew the truth.  “He was a hero.  Is.  Always will be,” said Leticia Aceves, in her eulogy.

Her husband joined the U.S. Army as an engineer in 2005.  Despite long absences, he remained a dedicated husband and father of six children, according to family members.

Family photographs show the children sometimes fell asleep holding pictures of their father while waiting for his return.

“That’s what you do in the Army,” Leticia said.  “You just wait. You wait for a call.  You wait to hear from them. You wait for them to come home.”

In a message to his wife, though, he warned her.  “If, in case I don’t come back, I want you to keep going forward, making life beautiful,” she read.

On January 12, that fear came true when a bomb exploded in Afghanistan and killed Sgt. Aceves and two other soldiers in his unit.  He was 30 years old.

“His fellow soldiers wanted him in the lead,” said Brigadier General Roger Matthews, who spoke on behalf of the U.S. Army at Friday’s service.

Aceves’ service earned him more than a dozen medals, including a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

His family remembered him for his big heart and sense of humor.

“Every time I finished talking to him or at the end of a message, I would say, “Still waiting.”  Now it’s his turn to wait for me,” said Leticia.