They came from Walker Basin, a speck of a community at the edge of the Sequoia National Forest. From the farm town of Reedley, where a barber gives boys joining the military free haircuts before they ship out.
They came from San Francisco. Los Angeles. San Diego.
When they died, photos went up on post office walls in their hometowns. On Veterans Day, there are parades and charity golf tournaments. Buddies gather at graves to drink to the ones who are gone.
In the 11 years since the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan, 725 service members from California have been killed.
Many died young -- 41% were not yet 22. Sixty-three were still teenagers.
They were fun-loving singles. Forty-seven were engaged. They were married, leaving behind 307 wives and husbands. They had children -- 432 sons and daughters.