Lance Cpl. Ryan Evan Harris' grandparents say their 21-year-old grandson had been in the Marines for two and a half years. At Camp Pendleton, where he was stationed, he worked as a diesel mechanic.
Harris had just visited the Eleverta home he grew up in for Christmas and was supposed to leave Friday to return to Elverta for New Year’s Eve. Instead, in the early hours of Friday morning, Harris was killed at a bar in the Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown San Diego.
"He should have been back yesterday, but he was killed the day before," said Harris' grandfather, Larry Holt.
Harris was out with some of his fellow Marines when they got involved in a fight. The 21-year-old jumped in to break up the altercation, according to his family, and was stabbed in the neck. He died at the scene.
"He was trying to intervene," Holt said. "That's what his commanding officer told us. Said he did what a Marine should do."
Even more heartbreaking is Harris' killer still has not been caught. His grandparents hope that person does the right thing.
Harris went to Rio Linda High School and graduated from East Nicolaus High School in Sutter County. Family members told FOX40 he loved baseball and played for a church league while stationed in San Diego.
"Ryan was the all American kid, I guess," Holt said. "If you ever had a son you want him to be like Ryan."
After high school, Harris was inspired to join the Marines by his grandfather's service in Vietnam. He had dreams of becoming a CHP officer.
Just this year Harris became a newlywed.
"He's everything any grandparent or parent would want for a child," said Dianna Holt, Harris' grandmother. "God, I miss him."
The investigation into Harris’ death was originally led by the San Diego Police Department and is now a joint investigation between local detectives and the Marine Corps' criminal investigators, according to family.