DANVILLE (CBS SF) — Roughly 1,000 people stood overlooking the lake in Danville’s Oak Hill Park Tuesday night to honor Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Corral, a 19-year-old Marine killed in Afghanistan last week.
Community members, including many of Corral’s family members and friends, braved chilly temperatures to hold candles and American flags as they paid homage to Corral, who was killed Friday while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.
“This is a young man who made a huge difference,” said Danville Mayor Karen Stepper, addressing a sea of faces lit by shining candles.
“Our prayers are with his family who are facing Thanksgiving this year with an empty chair,” she said.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
Although the soldier’s family left the park shortly after candles were lit at 6 p.m., they invited attendees to congregate in the park in remembrance of their son and brother.
Hundreds of people remained in the park despite the wintry chill, many holding candles and talking with fellow community members.
Some wiped away tears, while others bowed their heads in prayer.
Brock Marcotte, 20, was among the many Danville residents at Tuesday night’s vigil. He and Corral had been best friends for several years and both joined the Marines around the same time, he said.
Marcotte said he had returned from Afghanistan shortly before Corral left for his first tour of duty there about two months ago.
The two had spoken on the phone only a couple of days before he was killed, comparing notes on their time spent in the war-torn country, as they often did, he said.
“He was a person that was always there for you and had your back,” Marcotte said of his longtime friend who was due to turn 20 next month and was affectionately known by friends and family members as “Chachi.”
“He’s always tried to protect everybody and he loved his country more than anything,” Marcotte said.
Though the fellow Marine said he never saw Corral’s death coming, he added, “There’s no better way that he would’ve wanted to leave.”
On Monday afternoon, an estimated 700 community members showed their support by lining the street leading to the Corral family’s home on Bountiful Court to welcome them as they returned from Delaware with their son’s body, said San Ramon Valley High student Turner Stanton, who helped organize the event.
Flags at Danville’s town hall have remained at half-staff since news of Corral’s death reached the town last week, said Robert Storer, a Danville town councilman.
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