Spc. Sean Walsh was killed by enemy fire two weeks ago. On Wednesday, Walsh's body arrived at Moffett Field.
Before the plane carrying Walsh's body touched down, his mother showed her own courage by reading a statement to tell the world that her only child was gone.
"He was a man full of laughter, with a kind heart and a happy spirit," said Cheryl Walsh. "He was the fourth generation of my family to serve our country in the military and the third to receive a Bronze Star and, sadly, I'm the second of my family to have lost a son."
Walsh was killed Nov. 16 by enemy fire launched at his military base in Afghanistan.
ABC7 was there when the 870th Military Police Company shipped out last December. The unit is just weeks away from coming home and, had things gone as planned, Walsh's best friend Lena would have been there for the homecoming.
Instead, she was at Moffett Field on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old was hoping for a career in law enforcement and had spent four years as a Santa Clara explorer.
"Just to watch him though, physically and mentally, to mature and become a young professional was fantastic to be around," said Ofc. Bill Davis with the Santa Clara Police Department.
Walsh's fellow soldiers have posted two tribute videos on YouTube complete with several photos.
"He loved me and I loved him back," said Cheryl Walsh. "We ended every phone call with 'I love you mom' or 'I love you son,' and one of us would say 'I love you more.' So that was my son."
In a world with no guarantees, that memory promises to last a lifetime.