On Monday night people in Hickory remembered a young man who died living his dreams.
Family and friends attended the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Mason Vanderwork, who was killed during a military training exercise.
In St. Stephens High School, from which Vanderwork graduated, his friends and family said goodbye at his memorial service.
Friends and former teachers stood up remembering a man who left his mark on the Hickory community as a son, a husband and a friend.
"We're here because he made a difference. He made a difference in me. He made a difference to me. He was a young man of conviction, dedication and accountability," said St. Stephens teacher Gerald Killian.
On Monday night, as the colors of the nation were presented to Vanderwork's wife and mother, the 25-year-old's grandfather, a Marine himself, said the family is still very much devastated, but healing through the community's support.
"That made me feel good to know he's been loved so much," said Jerry Vanderwork.
And it is his service to the country they will not forget.
"I am very proud. I am very proud of him," he said.
This weekend members of the Patriot Guard escorted Vanderwork's remains to a special service at Camp Lejeune.