Crowd gathers to honor Danville Marine killed in Afghanistan
Corporal was one of several 2010 SRVHS grads who enlisted together
Hundreds of people turned out Monday afternoon to honor the family of Joshua "Chachi" Corral, the 19-year-old Marine from Danville who was killed Friday in Afghanistan.
Lining both sides of the street for about a half mile, friends, neighbors and well wishers talked quietly as they waited for the family's return from Dover, Del., where they claimed Corral's body.
The young marine's father spoke to some of the crowd from the front deck of the family's home on Bountiful Court.
"Thank you for being here today," said Corral's father, Arnie. "It's a bit overwhelming."
Danville Mayor Karen Stepper said the 2010 San Ramon Valley High School graduate volunteered with a number of friends, calling them Danville's own band of brothers.
Family friend Kelly Miller helped organize the homecoming, spreading the word to parents with children on sports teams, as did the Pleasanton Military Families Support Group and the East Bay Blue Star Moms.
Miller said everyone in Danville who's been on a team knew Corral or one of his three brothers.
"He volunteered to be a (mine) sweeper. He did it voluntarily -- he wanted to make a difference with his life," Miller said. "He just had a larger than life personality."
Miller also helped organize a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening at Oak Hill Park in Danville. She said that no church in Danville is big enough to hold all those who'd want to attend.
Members of both the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and the Danville Police Department turned out to pay their respects to the family.
"We're here just trying to show support," said Police Chief Steve Simpkins. "They deserve it."
Also among those waiting were members of the Blue Star Moms, the name a reference to World War II, when families with a son killed in action displayed a blue star in a window of their home.
"We're here to honor the Corral family and their sacrifice," said Blue Star Mom Vicki Carlson. "We want them to know how much we love them and support them."
Many of those lining the street awaiting the family's return carried signs; a group of high school friends stood outside the family home carrying a long banner that read, "Legends never die. We love you Chachi. Once a hero, always a hero."