Merced Soldier Killed In Iraq

FRESNO, Calif.                   |   Watch Video Above for Extended Coverage   |

Friends and family have been showing up at the family home in Merced all weekend. The 20-year-old's mother says after a middle school trip to ground zero in New York, she and her husband noticed a change in their son. And soon after high school, he decided to join the army.

Hoppers mother Robin said, "He wanted to be out there serving and protecting us. He saw that as his roll. I think that he wanted to get the bad guys and help protect our freedoms and help protect our family."

In honor of Hopper's death, Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered the flags at the capitol to be flown at half staff. The Governor also released the following statement: "He will be remembered for his courage and dedication as he put his life on the line to protect the freedoms of our country. His sacrifice will not be forgotten and we join all Californians in mourning this terrible loss."

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