8th former Buchanan High student killed in Afghanistan

FRESNO, Calif.

Sergeant Matthew Abbate was killed in action Thursday. Two Marines and a Chaplain notified the family Thursday night of the tragedy.

A close family friend says just a few weeks ago Matthew Abbate was wounded from an improvised explosive device. He was treated for minor injuries before returning to combat. This was his third deployment, but first to Afghanistan.

Family members got word Thursday night of Marine Sergeant Matthew Abbate's death in Afghanistan. Loved ones learned the 26-year-old was killed in battle after he was shot by enemy gunfire.

Abbate's step father issued a statement Friday saying quote: "He always wanted to be a Marine. He died doing what he believed he was born to do."

Abbate attended Buchanan High School in Clovis for three years but graduated in 2002 from Sierra Charter School in Fresno. He is the eighth former Buchanan student to die in combat. JJ Dewey of Fresno did not know Abbate, but the news hit her hard. She is a Buchanan graduate whose husband is currently deployed in Iraq.

"Even though they say the combat is over there, it's not. It's still scary," said Dewey. "And a lot of times you just try to get through the day and not think about the dangers that they face and when something like this happens, it brings those dangers into reality, that you can't ignore it."

Abbate's Facebook page was filled with memories from friends and loved ones. Many described him as a strong and brave man with a huge heart. Other Marines said he set the standard for everyone and was a great mentor to all.

Brian Wise also graduated from Buchanan. He lives in the nation's capitol now and feels both sad and proud of the sacrifices of many of his classmates.

"It never gets any easier," said Wise. "Just as I'm talking to you now. I feel the pain of that moment when you first hear about one of the people that you love falling because of the courage and the patriotism that they have."

Abbate is survived by a wife and 2-year-old son. His mother and stepfather are expected to fly out within the next hour to Dover, Delaware where they will meet their son's body. Funeral services are pending.

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