Their plan seemed simple: a wedding in the fall, a nice house on a big lot, a big truck and, some day, when the time was right, a few kids.
"I wanted it to be a promise for him," she said. "To say, 'Look at all that will be waiting for you. Come home.' "
But about two weeks after the anti-tank assault specialist reached Afghanistan, everything changed. Three Marines came to his parents' home to tell them that their son had been killed.
He was among four Marines killed Oct. 13 when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, on the Pakistani border. Also killed were Cpl. Justin J. Cain, 22, of Manitowoc, Wis.; Lance Cpl. Joseph E. Rodewald, 21, of Albany, Ore.; and Lance Cpl. Phillip D. Vinnedge, 19, of St. Charles, Mo.
Family members say Dew had been preparing for duty since he was 12, when he first draped a giant Marine Corps flag over his bed. As a boy, he would sit for hours watching old war documentaries on the History Channel.
"He wanted to be on the front lines where it counts," Gold said. "He always thought it was his duty."
When he set out for boot camp, his close-knit family supported him, glowing with pride as they watched him fulfill his goal. Nearly every month, they packed into their minivan, sometimes with Gold, and drove eight hours south to see him at Camp Pendleton.
He was a strong individual, his mother said, "who always liked to take care of things himself."
When he was about 2, he disappeared from his parents' bedroom one naptime, settling instead in front of the TV with a box of cereal. By age 10, he knew how to do laundry and cook dinner. And at around 15, he bought his first car, an old, black Nissan Ultima, from an uncle.
From an early age, he was shaped and disciplined by martial arts. His jujitsu teacher, Clint LeMay, was one of his closest friends.
"When I met him, he was a like a 30-year-old man walking in a 13-year-old's body," LeMay said. "He was wise beyond his years and knew how to deal with all kinds of people."
Whenever Dew struggled with a sweep or a throw, LeMay said, he would grow frustrated, then focus and work harder than most other students to improve. Over the years, Dew moved up to a second-degree black belt. He also began teaching.
Gold and Dew grew up within five miles of each other. They met when they were15. But it wasn't until they found themselves at the same college in late 2008 that they began to date. Last August, Dew took Gold to Disneyland, one of his favorite places, and proposed.
"I said 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' " Gold said.
The two had planned to move to Southern California while Dew finished with the Marines. She was going to become a medical assistant. He thought he might become a nurse. Eventually, they wanted to return to the Sacramento area to buy a home.
Now, Gold said, the future is a blur.
Days before Dew's burial, she put on her wedding dress and had someone take photographs. They were placed in her fiance's casket.
"I bought that dress for him," she said. "He deserved to see me in it."