If you had told Marine Capt. Matt Manoukian when he was a teenager that more than 1,000 people would pack a boiling hot high school auditorium Saturday to remember him as an American hero, the future Marine probably wouldn't have believed it.
After all, the librarian at his Mountain View alma mater still has a yellow Post-it note from the mischevious Manoukian stuck to her computer that says, "I promise to be an angel next week.''
But 11 years later, speaker after speaker -- including the president of his alma mater and the commander of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command -- praised him at his memorial service as a brave leader whose confidence inspired everyone who knew him, from his little brothers to the men under his command in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Manoukian -- the 29-year-old son of Santa Clara County Judge Socrates "Pete" Manoukian and state appellate court Associate Justice Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian -- and two other Marines were fatally shot earlier this month in southern Afghanistan by an insurgent disguised as an Afghan policemen.
"Matt Manoukian was the embodiment of all we tried to do at St. Francis High School,'' said Kevin Makley, president of the private Catholic school, which he said aims to "educate hearts and minds to serve the world.''
He had wanted to be a Marine since he was 10 years old. Despite knee surgery and a tumor that had to be removed from his spine, he made it into Camp Pendleton's 1st
His family and friends said he had profound respect for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, whom he made a point to get to know during his four tours of duty. Manoukian saw his role in Afghanistan as freeing the oppressed from the Taliban and bringing a fair legal system to a country that had never had one.
Among those who attended the memorial were the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, as well as local judges and court staff, military officials and family friends. Bagpiper Lettie Smith led a Marine color guard to the stage to start the service, followed by his flag-draped coffin. It ended about 31/2 hours later with a 21-gun salute.
Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482.