A light in a dark world.
That's how 19-year-old Joshua Corral was remembered on a cold Tuesday night at Oak Hill Park in eastern Danville.
Several hundred people turned out for a candlelight vigil near the park's lake to pay tribute to the 2010 San Ramon Valley High graduate who died last Friday while serving his country in Afghanistan.
"He was a light in this dark world," said Don Busboom, a history and government teacher at San Ramon Valley High. "He fought a real enemy in a dark place."
Busboom spoke of Corral's strength of character as he remembered the young lance corporal known to friends and family as "Chachi."
He also acknowledged the grief and sorrow now overwhelming Corral's family as well as his friends and the community at large.
"It is us now who are in a dark place. That is why we are here tonight," said Busboom. "We need to be reminded that in this dark place there is hope."
With that, the crowd lit small candles that were passed out as people entered the park.
Mayor Karen Stepper spoke as the candles glowed in the night.
"This is a young man who made a huge difference," she said. "Our prayers are with his family who are facing Thanksgiving this year with an empty chair."
A machine gunner, Corral was fatally injured serving with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment from the air-ground combat training base at Twentynine Palms.
Corral was on his first Afghanistan deployment, in Helmand province. He began his Marine Corps service in July 2010.
Friends have set up a bank account to collect funds to help the family with costs associated with the memorial service. The account is located at Bank of the West, 307 Diablo Road, Danville, 94526. Make checks payable to the memory of Joshua Corral. The number is 25916759.