There were nine who went. The group of friends graduated from San Ramon Valley High School in June 2010, and then immediately enlisted in the Marines. They all had their own reasons for going.
Joshua Corral wanted to make a difference.
“He wanted his life to matter,” said Mike Dorrance, whose son Jordan was one of Corral’s friends who enlisted around the same time.
Joshua Corral definitely mattered — to the hundreds of people who lined the streets and cul-de-sac leading to his family's Danville home Monday.
The teens, adults, military veterans and city officials were holding U.S. and Marine Corps flags to show their support for Corral’s parents and three brothers. The grieving family members were arriving home late Monday afternoon after traveling to Delaware to accept Corral’s remains.
The 19-year-old lance corporal, affectionately known by friends and family as "Chachi," was killed Friday in Afghanistan.
“He loved being in the Marines," said his good friend Brock Marcotte, a fellow 2010 San Ramon Valley High graduate who just returned home last week after completing his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
“Being in the Marines fit him perfectly,” Marcotte said. “He loved working hard. He was super tough. There are Marines and then there are Marines you want to be like. And he was definitely one of those Marines. He set the bar to excel.”
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, since he began his Marine Corps service in July 2010. A U.S. Marines newsletter said Corral was promoted to lance corporal in June.
According to a iCasualties.org, two members of international security forces died in southern Afghanistan on Friday; one died following an attack by insurgents; the other was killed by a roadside bomb.
“Chachi died after accomplishing the things he wanted to do,” said Danville Mayor Karen Stepper who was among the crowd outside the Corral home Monday. “He signed up with his buddies and, in his own words, he wanted to make a difference.”
Corral was among seven Danville service people honored at an Operation Welcome Home event last December, but he was unable to attend.
Stepper expected that the Danville community would rally to support the family as they grieve. "Danville will circle these people with hugs and tears."
The family was a fixture in the community, particularly Joshua Corral's father, Arnie Corral, who had coached Little League teams in the Danville area for years. Joshua Corral and his brothers Zack, 22, Jordan, 16, and Christian, 10, have all been active in youth sports.
"Arnie coached I don’t know how many teams. Their story touches the entire community," said Kelly Miller, a self-described football mom who knew Joshua from when he played freshman football for the San Ramon Valley High Wolves.
Despite being hard core about being a Marine, Corral was known as a friendly, fun-loving young man.
"He had a magnetic personality," Miller said. "He just drew people to him. He was an amazing child from an amazing family."
San Ramon Valley High classmate Diane Smith said she would "miss his smile. He cared about everyone so much."
"He started all the parties," Marcotte said. "He didn't like to be bored. If we were sitting around, he said 'let's get something going.' "
Marcotte described Corral's patriotism and enthusiasm for enlisting as the reason he and their other friends signed up. In addition to Corral, Marcotte, and Mike Dorrance's son, Jordan Dorrance, the other San Ramon Valley High graduates who are serving in the Marines are Erik Smith, Kyle Parrish, Sean and Matt Mahoney, and Justin Romans.
Corral's death was announced to the crowd attending against Castro Valley.
"Everybody's devastated here because he was a nice, nice, nice, nice boy," Danville Councilman Mike Doyle said Saturday morning when reached by phone.
Corral's death represents the second Bay Area war casualty in as many days. Sean Walsh, a 21-year-old California National Guard soldier from San Jose, was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan's Khost Province, the Department of Defense announced Friday.
Walsh died from injuries suffered when he encountered indirect fire during combat operations. He is the second California National Guardsman to be killed in action in Afghanistan.
Corral's friends are also holding a candlelight prayer vigil Tuesday evening.The vigil will take place at 6 p.m. near the All Wars Memorial at Danville's Oak Hill Park, 3005 Stone Valley Road.Tuesday's vigil will be led by Don Busboom, an American government teacher at San Ramon Valley High. Plans for a memorial service are pending.
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.