Dion Roberts, 25, a gunners mate first class, died Saturday night, according to his family. He was a 2005 graduate of North Chicago High School, where flags flew at half-staff on Monday.
"This is a community that really focuses on the entire community. They all look out for each other, know each other," said Eric Gallagher, North Chicago Community High School.
Roberts's sister says she will miss his smile and his spirit.
"When I heard about his death, it was devastating," said Jaleesa Roberts, sister. "He was supposed to be home in November. We was expecting him back and we never thought this was going to happen."
"I think he went the way he would have wanted to go which is honoring country, said Edward Wrather, Roberts's former volleyball coach.
Those who knew Roberts say he excelled in sports and in the Navy's Junior ROTC program.
"He had the right stuff and he was dedicated. He was in the top of his class and he was determined to complete and be the best that he could," said Commander Raymond Scott, former Junior ROTC supervisor.
Friends say Roberts also was part of a special group of young men known affectionately as the "Fab Five." Not only did they graduate high school together but they also enlisted together, hoping to make a difference.
"We were all so different but together we had that energy," said Antoine Gilmore, friend.
"We kept our heads on straight, we did a lot of community service with ROTC," said Aamin Stokes, friend.
As friends gather to comfort one another, they vow to remain committed to the legacy of dedication and selflessness created by Roberts.
"I was very proud of him for everything that he had done and everything that he continued to do, and the pride that he had for being in the military," said Amber Norwood, friend.
Roberts's parents are on their way to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where his body will return to the United States.
Friends and the high school alumni association say they are working to establish a scholarship fund in honor of Roberts.