An active duty United States Marine who was killed in a motorcycle crash in Mission Valley this week had gotten married to his high school sweetheart just 10 days before the accident.
"He has a big heart and [is] very independent. Love for his family, if he had his mind set on something, he had his mind on it,” said Kaytlin Laughman, wife of Lance Corporal Brandon Laughman in a phone interview with NBC 7 Friday.
The couple had wed in Urbana, Ohio, where Laughman was born and raised. Days after marrying his bride, Laughman returned to active duty in San Diego.
Laughman said she was about to move to San Diego to join her husband. They had been apartment hunting and planning a family. Brandon Laughman had his sights set on a long career in the U.S. Marine Corps.
On Monday evening, however, the 20-year-old Marine died after crashing his motorcycle eastbound on Friars Road near Mission Center. The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) said Laughman was thrown from his motorcycle and the impact was fatal.
His mother, Melissa Laughman, was notified of her son's sudden death that same night.
"It's not a phone call any parent wants to get,” Melissa told NBC 7.
The heartbroken mother said her son would be sorely missed. His life's dream, she said, was to be a U.S. Marine -- a proud tradition in his family.
"His grandfather was a Marine. Growing up, that is all Brandon wanted to do is be a Marine,” said Melissa.
Brandon was the first born and Melissa's only son. His family said he was determined, head-strong and mature beyond his age.
"He loved his family; he was very protective of his sister and me. He was the man of the house,” his mother said.
Laughman was also a car enthusiast who belonged to a car club in San Diego. That club put together a memorial at the crash site and paid him tribute with a parade of cars on Friars Road.
"It's amazing how much he has touched people. I am definitely proud of my son,” his mother said.
The family is making funeral plans this week. The Marine will be buried back in his hometown.
Two other clubs are hosting memorials for him this weekend -- a barbecue and car meet-up at Ski Beach.