Fallen valley Marine returns home

FRESNO, Calif.

Sergeant /*Matthew Abbate*/ died last week after being struck by enemy gunfire. He attended Buchanan for three years, and is the 8th former student to be killed in combat.

Sergeant Abbate's casket was flown in from Dover Air Force Base. A procession of cars then escorted him from Lemoore to the Chapel of the Light, where he'll stay until his burial services.

A plane carrying the body of Sergeant Matthew Abbate landed around 6:30 Wednesday night at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

Fellow Marines, family members and friends stood watch as the 26-year-old's flag draped casket was lowered into an awaiting hearse.

Lisa Boyles said, "They're just happy to have Matt home, that Matt's coming home."

A motorcade escorted Abbate nearly 40 miles to the Chapel of the Light in west central Fresno.

A small group of Patriot Guard riders, many of them Vietnam veterans, were among those who saluted the fallen Marine. Abbate was killed last Thursday by enemy gunfire in Afghanistan.

Rob Talbot said, "To be able to honor the hero that comes back after being a warrior dying in support of his country. It's the least we can do."

Friends say weeks before he died, Abbate was wounded from an improvised explosive device. This was his third deployment, but first to Afghanistan.

Shortly after his death, Abbate's step-father issued a statement saying, quote, "He always wanted to be a Marine. He died doing what he believed he was born to do."

Bob Firestine said, "He really, you know gave nothing less than what Jesus gave so we're out here to welcome a hero home and see that he gives the proper escort and respect he deserves."

Abbate is survived by a wife and two-year-old son.

The public is invited to attend his funeral on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at People's Church.

In lieu of flowers, family members are asking that people donate to Toys for Tots.

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