The 21-year-old from Santa Fe Springs was killed in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- Countless families are pausing on Memorial Day to remember fallen U.S. military service members. For many, the heartache never stops.
For the last 20 years, different groups of people who made up Army Sgt. Paul Nakamura's life gather at Rose Hills cemetery in Whittier to show him that he's forever a part of their lives.
"Today is not Memorial Day because Memorial Day is every day for us," said Nakamura's sister Pearl Estuar. "He was such a special person that he touched everybody in a different way."
The 21-year-old from Santa Fe Springs was killed in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"I could recall June, 19, 2003 like yesterday. I recall getting the phone call," Estuar said. "When he passed, half of me did too."
Estuar never got a chance to say goodbye so a small part of her feels her brother is still around.
"Sometimes when I come here at Rose Hills, I'll leave 35 cents because that's how much a phone call used to be, so maybe if he's around, he can give me a call one day," she said.
Fellow soldiers assigned to Paul's 437th Medical Company unit like Paolo Alfante know freedom comes at a cost.
"He's my hero. He died doing his job. Protecting patients as we were combat medics, so a tragedy but still very heroic," Alfante said. "Twenty years has passed but we'll never forget. I never forget. I'm here every Memorial Day because I was lucky to come home and he wasn't."
Because of that, they want everyone to make the most out of life. It's the least they can do to honor those who gave it all for this country.