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Local family remembers fallen Marine son

CASCO, WI (WTAQ) - This Memorial Day weekend, one local family is reflecting on its own loss.

“It puts us on a list that most people don't want to be on. The list of honoring your own. But, it's something Dean wanted to do. He wanted to join the service, he wanted to serve his country, and he did the almighty service, he lost his life doing it,” David Opicka, standing in front of a framed picture of his son, tells FOX 11.  “As the saying goes, freedom was never free.”

David Opicka's son, Lance Corporal Dean Opicka, was killed in Iraq. The vehicle the Marine was driving hit a land mine.

“With what, 100,000 troops there, you know you say what are the odds that it's going to be your son or daughter, that the Marines are going to be at your door, because there are so many there. But you do know that when you look out the door and the Marines were there, we knew it was not for a good thing,” his father recalled.

“It's difficult to realize that your son is here,” said his mother, Donna, told FOX 11 at his grave site.

Now instead of just a barbecue, Memorial Day will focus on a trip to the cemetery where Opicka is buried, less than a mile from the family's Casco home.

This year marks five years since Lance Corporal Dean Opicka was killed in action. He was actually the third Marine from Luxembourg-Casco area to die in Iraq. And with this 10th anniversary of that conflict beginning, families say they will never forget the service their sons gave.

“The large flag in the middle is the one that covered his coffin,” Opicka's mother pointed out.

Pictures, mementos and flags cover the Opicka's living room wall.

A memorial in their backyard proudly displays an American flag, and statue of a Marine: The same statue that guards Opicka's grave.

As a family with a long military tradition, the Opickas say they remain like this motto: Always faithful, committed to keeping their son's memory alive.

The Opicka family gives high school scholarships each year in honor of their son. A softball tournament fundraiser is set for next weekend in Casco.