On a day in which the stateline paid their final respects to fallen Marine Branden Ramey, his best friend Tim Buhl says Branden's caring and supportive nature is what he'll miss the most.
"I could just call him anytime. He would be there to talk if I was having any problem I've ever gone through," Buhl shares.
Thousands remembered Branden, in the school where he once made so many proud, in an area in which he hoped to again give back as a history teacher. But before that, he chose to defend his country; a mission that friends say will forever cement his courageous legacy.
"He’s probably one of the bravest guys I know. He didn't have to go but he knew he was doing his job as a Marine and there's no way he was not going to go," Buhl says.
The support went far beyond friends and family. Hundreds of supporters, who didn't even know the 22-year-old, joined the area's collective mourning, as one Marine's sacrifice in the Middle East hits home in Belvidere.
"When on the sign of the True Value it says, ‘We mourn for your loss the family of Branden Ramey,’ you know that everybody kind of shuts down. It's not just the flags that come half staff, it's all of our hearts as we mourn with them," Pam Rossmiller says.
A mourning that hits extra hard with Branden's best friends, who just weeks ago, received letters from Ramey, saying how excited he was to serve his country.
"He was just telling me that, ‘don't worry about me, I'm coming home soon and when we get back, we are just going to have good times.’ He just told me not to worry, because he was coming home," Buhl said.
A mission cut short, from a hero in the Stateline, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.