Lance Corporal Michael Allen was there this year. The Edison High School graduate joined the Marine Corps in 2008.
Just a day before his tour was up, Allen took a round in the leg ... a serious wound that sent him first to Germany then to a Washington hospital for more surgery.
His mother, Donna Allen said, "He was more worried about his unit and not being there to protect them no more."
In less than a month, October 15th, he was home. At first he was the same happy guy they all enjoyed. But late last week his mood changed.
He was agitated, angry. What he had seen and lived through came tumbling out in a late night conversation. Including a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.
His sister Chelsea said his mood change came out of nowhere. "He looked alright until that night. Two weeks he'd been home and everything' alright and then that night he scared everyone. We didn't know what to think."
The young marine left but never returned. It was his nature, they said, for him to take a drive to clear his head. This time he didn't come back.
The Highway Patrol was called to a single car accident in rural Merced County. A blown tire had caused a rollover accident that killed the young man instantly. Leaving his family wondering why they had been kept in the dark about his PTSD.
His mother said, "Had a friend that lost his legs. It upset him that everyone was thanking him for his service. He's like, 'no you go thank that guy, I'm ok. I'm alright, I'm gonna walk, I'm gonna be normal, I'm gonna live my life.'"
When Lance Corporal Michael Allen is laid to rest with full military honors, many of his fellow marines will be there to stand with his large extended family and honor his service to his country.
His mother said, "He had a wonderful sense of humor, wonderful sense of humor and he is missed."