LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A 19-year-old Persian Gulf War veteran returning for a homecoming party was killed in a drive-by shooting. It was his first night back in his old neighborhood.

Pvt. Cesar Gardea, a Army tank driver on leave after a six-month tour of duty in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, was killed Tuesday in a shooting that also left a 17-year-old cousin dead and wounded two others, police said.

Gardea had returned to suburban Baldwin Park, where he attended high school, to attend a weekend party before returning to a military base in Germany on July 5, relatives said.

''It was kind of like coming home to say goodbye,'' said Gardea's 18-year- old girlfriend, Lorena Limon.

In letters to his girlfriend, Gardea recounted front-line combat and said he feared for his life.

''This is not good,'' said Armando Ortiz, Gardea's uncle. ''This man, or boy, is in action over there, then comes back here and is shot. I think it is more dangerous to be here.''

Neither of the young men was affiliated with a gang, police said. But friends and family said Gardea's cousin, Pablo Paez, dressed like a gang member. No arrests were made.