He was Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez, but at gallery unveiling of fallen Marine’s portrait, we got to meet Joey

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Another painting was added to the Portrait of a Warrior gallery in downtown Bakersfield Wednesday. The tribute to Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez, killed in Afghanistan 10 years ago, was unveiled — and his family was there for the occasion.

Joseph Lopez Pratti was the middle son of Art and Tracy Pratti’s five, the one trying to find his way.

He found it with the U.S. Marine Corps. Ten years ago, he was killed by an improvised explosive devise. His family, from Rosamond, remembers him every day — and every year with a memorial 5K run. On Wednesday, Bakersfield remembered him as well at the two year old gallery.

Visitors to the gallery will come to known Lopez from the short bio the accompanies his painting. But the family, which made the 100 mile trip to Bakersfield, wants us to know the guy they knew as Joey. His young nieces and nephews know him.

“Even the ones that never met Joey know about Joey,” said his father Art Pratti. “They call him Uncle Joey and it seems like they know all about him. We never stop talking about Joey.”

And Joey never stops talking to them. His family printed business cards with the words of his final text home.

“If for some reason something happens to me and I don’t come home,” it reads in part, “make sure mom understands I have a relationship with God now and I’m OK.”

Joey’s portrait, painted by Nellie Scarborough, was sponsored by Becky Cummings of Bakersfield. Neither woman actually knew the fallen Marine. They do now — and thanks to their efforts, we can know him too.

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