It has been a long journey home for Mason Vanderwork. Friends and family are just beginning a visitation at his high school in Hickory, but for hours on Monday morning and afternoon, the community honored the fallen Marine.
No one had to wonder on Monday how Hickory feels about Marine Vanderwork.
Not with veterans lining the streets, not with dozens of flags flying in his honor, and not with Kathy Travis, whose two sons came home from war safely, heartsick for Vanderwork's mother and wife.
"I just want to be here to support. I can't imagine what she is going through. So we just wanted to be here to support the family," said Travis.
Two weeks after Vanderwork died in a training accident in Nevada, Hickory welcomed him back home.
Inside an afternoon memorial service, he was called a dedicated husband, son and friend who loved family and the Marines.
Outside, Gerald Killian, who taught him for three years in high school, asked to join the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Procession -- his own personal tribute.
"He is a fine young man, and he deserves the honors that are being bestowed to him, and I want to be a part of that, to honor Mason," said Killian.
This weekend, members of the Patriot Guard escorted Vanderwork's remains to a special service at Camp Lejeune.
On Monday, they did it once again in Hickory.
Keith Arbuckle wished that it was not necessary.
"If I had one wish, we would never stand for another young solider that lost their life in the line of duty," he said.
The visitation at St. Stephen's High School will run until roughly 7 p.m.
At 7 p.m., there will be another memorial service in which there will be full military honors for Vanderwork.