A young Marine cameraman from Cambria County was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the day before he would have turned 21.
Lance Cpl. Ralph Fabbri, a combat photographer from the borough of Gallitzin who had been based at Camp Pendleton, was killed by small arms fire while on foot patrol in Helmand province, where the Marines have been battling to take control from the Taliban.
Cpl. Fabbri had been assigned to the headquarters battalion of the First Marine Division and was on his first six-month combat deployment. He was due back at Camp Pendleton in three weeks.
Cpl. Fabbri's family asked for privacy on Thursday.
But his cousin, Stacy Hoover, 34, and others in and around the small communities of Gallitzin and Cresson where the family is well-known described Cpl. Fabbri as a caring, respectful young man who aspired to be an art teacher when he got out of the Marines.
Cpl. Fabbri had been an honors art student at Penn Cambria High School, where he graduated in 2008.
When TV news reporters began calling the school on Wednesday after learning of his death, several of Cpl. Fabbri's former teachers told Principal Bill Marshall that they couldn't go on television because they were afraid they would choke up.
"It really hit them hard," said Mr. Marshall, who said Cpl. Fabbri stood out in the small school district for his artistic ability and his enthusiasm for history.
Some of Cpl. Fabbri's artwork had been framed in the high school library as part of a permanent display; after his death it was moved to a new display in the school office.
Mr. Marshall thought that Cpl. Fabbri was a good candidate for college, but Ms. Hoover said he grew up idolizing two cousins who were Marines.
He was also a patriot who was fascinated by American history and knew the role of the military in shaping it. So he decided to enlist.
At home, Ms. Hoover said, he was an outdoorsman who always carried a camera.
In the service, he put those talents to work as a combat photographer.
Cpl. Fabbri's body was scheduled to arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Thursday night.
Funeral plans were not complete, but the ceremony is expected to take place sometime next week.
Mr. Marshall said the flags at his school will remain at half-staff until then. The flags in Gallitzin, where Cpl. Fabbri was born and raised, will also remain at half-staff.
Cpl. Fabbri is survived by his parents, Tim and Deb Fabbri of Gallitzin, and an older brother, Tim Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Fabbri issued a statement saying their son will be remembered as a "down-to-earth, fun-loving and considerate person who chose to serve his country."
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510.