From morning to evening on Thursday, friends and neighbors stopped by the family home of Frazier Park's fallen son, Brian Cody Prosser. Some left baskets of flowers.
Up Lakewood Mountain Road, others paused at a convenience store to sign an American flag that will be presented to the family.
"God bless you for your sacrifice. America is worth it," read one message.
A day after learning that Prosser was one of three U.S. Special Forces soldiers killed in Afghanistan, the tightknit community of 2,300 seemed to draw on its collective strength to make sense of the tragedy.
"You think that you live in a Podunk town where nothing happens," said Shelly Mason, Prosser's former English teacher at El Tejon School, where she is now principal.
"But Cody is proof that great things can come from everything we do."
El Tejon students raise the American flag on the first Friday of the month, but today's ceremony will take on an greater significance because of the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and Prosser's death, Mason said.
"There is a lot of concern for the well-being of the Prossers and for anyone who has children serving in the military anywhere in the world," she added.
Prosser, 28, was killed Wednesday in a friendly fire incident. An American bomb had missed its Taliban target and landed about 100 yards from U.S. forces.
A staff sergeant and 10-year Army veteran, Prosser was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, based in Ft. Campbell, Ky.
"It was what he wanted," said Bob Franklin, owner of the convenience store.
"He was a real patriot. When he was in the 10th grade, he told me that he was going to be a Green Beret someday."
Other messages left on the flag, which Franklin kept folded behind the counter, included: "It is an honor to have known Cody," "Cody made us all proud," and "Cody will not be forgotten."
Prosser was in middle school when the family--parents, Brian and Juliana, and brothers, Jarudd, Mike and Reed--moved to Frazier Park, near the Ventura-Kern county line. Prosser also is survived by his wife, Shawna.
"He was a tremendous kid and always had his stuff together," said Chuck Howell, a football coach at Maricopa High School, where Prosser was team captain. "If you stepped on the field, you better buckle it up if you wanted to hit him."
The family remained in seclusion Thursday, although Prosser's father spoke briefly to reporters gathered on his driveway.
"I just want to say we are extremely proud of him," he said. "He is a hero in our house, and I hope in your house, too."
Of the circumstances surrounding his son's death, the father said: "There is no such thing in this house as friendly fire. Fire is fire. Those guys were there to do a mission."