With just two-thousand people living in Stockton and an average high school graduation class of 50, word traveled fast that 23-year-old Andy Lancaster was killed in Iraq over the weekend.
"It truly brings the war to northwest Illinois if it hasn't already and the town will rally behind and support the family and our thoughts and prayers go out the family," says Brad Fox, Lancaster's former football coach.
Lancaster grew up in Stockton and spent most of his high school career at Stockton High School. A star basketball and football player, Lancaster was even a member of the choir. And regardless of the activity, mentors say he gave it his all.
"Andy was a player that was very determined he played 100-percent of the time whether it was practice or game field was very energetic," Fox says.
He married high school sweetheart Tabbatha Tillis nearly three years ago. Since emotions are running high, she was unable to comment on camera. But friends say she's always been supportive of his choice to join the military.
"After the September 11 tragedy, that kind of intensified he and his friend Derek had strong interests in joining the military," says Terry Sertle, Lancaster's former guidance counselor. He's now the principal of Stockton High School
Sertle says about six-percent of students join the military each year. And doesn't think Lancaster's death will keep others from wanting to fight overseas.
Five other American soldiers were recently killed in Iraq, after a U.S. Commander says a sniper shot and killed one officer, then lured his comrades to a booby-trapped house that killed four more.