Hundreds lined the streets Friday to pay their respects to a fallen hero.
Cpl. Conner Lowry, 24, was killed last week in Afghanistan amid the rising attacks on American military personnel. Lowry's body arrived at Midway Airport Friday morning, and a procession led him to St. John Fisher Parish at 103rd and Washtenaw on Chicago's Southwest Side.
A wake followed.
"It's unreal at this point. It's like we just saw him yesterday," said high school friend Jake Nolan.
Lowry, a graduate of Brother Rice High School, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif., the Department of Defense said.
He was a gunner on a Humvee when he was killed. The family said Lowry was electrocuted.
"Conner was doing what he believed in, and that was fighting for us, for our country," said his friend, Owen Yanz.
A lifelong resident of Chicago's South Side, friends and family said Lowry was a huge fan of Notre Dame sports as a kid and he couldn't get enough of Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan.
Lowry went to college in Iowa and after a couple of years decided to enlist in the Marines with a couple of buddies. "He thought it would be good for him, he thought it would be good for his country," his mother said, adding that she was stunned at the news.
She said that hers is not a military family and that she could think of no one who had served.
"I just told him, 'Please don't,'" she said.
And yet she watched him turn into "an outstanding Marine," saying "He got lots of accolades, a big award at Camp Pendleton."
His mother and younger sister remembered last week how even as Lowry was getting ready to leave he tried to protect them as best he could, even if it meant saying something he couldn't possibly believe himself.
"I was pretty upset and he saw that (so) he said, 'Grace, don't worry, I'm just going to guard some gate in Europe, I probably won't see any combat,'" said 17-year-old Grace Lavin.