Hundreds of friends, family members, teachers and Hesperia High students and graduates came to Holy Family Church Monday morning to mourn the tremendous loss and celebrate the inspirational life of Anthony Joel Guzman, the 20-year-old who was killed in a horrific airplane collision last week in Corona.

The impressive showing by the HHS community was a testimony of something very special, according to Principal Larry Porras, one of several who shared thoughts on the 2005 graduate.

"They all have one thing in common: That's a love for Anthony," Porras said.

Of the thousands of students who have walked the halls of Hesperia High over the past few years, Guzman stood out among the most unforgettable.

"I'll never forget Anthony," Porras said. "I'd see him in the Quad. We'd talk 10 seconds. We'd talk 10 minutes. He was a classy young man."

As Scorpion head football coach Robert Kistner, who Guzman played for on the varsity team, presented the Guzman family with Guzman's jerseys, Porras thanked the Guzman family.

"Anthony was a quintessential student-athlete. He was a solid citizen, very well-rounded. I want to say to the Guzman family that you did a good job of raising him."

"He was a great all around kid; [he was] goal oriented," Diane Rodriguez, the Career Center specialist at Hesperia High, said after the memorial service. "He knew exactly what he wanted to do in life, always smiling, always positive. He will truly be missed here at Hesperia High School."

But Guzman wasn't only beloved as a handsome, chiseled young man. He was special since the day he was born, on May 10, 1987.

"We simply adored him," his aunt, Karen Schartau said of his cute dimples and big brown eyes as a baby.

"He was a joy and an inspiration," Schartau said. "Anthony was a gift of hope to all of us. His death will always be a loss to us, but his time with us was such a gain. I know he flew away home on that fateful day. He earned his wings."

On Sunday, Jan. 20, Guzman was aboard a Cessna airplane that collided in midair with another small aircraft. According to reports, one plane shattered upon impact while the other spiraled to the ground.

Altogether, four aboard the two airplanes were killed: Guzman; Brandon William Johnson, 24, of Costa Mesa, who was in the same plane as Guzman; Scott Gayle Lawrence, 55, of Cerritos; Paul Luther Carlson, 73, also of Cerritos. Earl Smiddy, 58, was was working in an office of an auto dealership, was killed by the debris.

Initially some experts surmised the accident may have been caused by sunlight impairing one of the pilot's vision. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Known as "Guz" to his friends, Guzman started taking pilot lessons at age 15. Later he received his private pilot's and instrumental licenses. He was working toward his commercial pilot's license to become a flight instructor. Earning an associate of art's degree graduate at Mount San Antonio College, Guzman worked for Stanley Pest Control in Anaheim.

"He knew what he wanted, and he did it with purpose," Schartau said.

"There's probably one thing in everybody's mind," Father John Fahnestock said. "That word is why? We never receive an answer to that question. He simply tells us we are special to Him. Can you come to me to celebrate life even through the midst of a death?"

For those of faith, moreover, their time with Guzman is not over, Father Fahnestock said.

"The relationship you have with Anthony is not over, it's changed. God asks can we walk in faith?"

Guzman's loved ones can't deny there is an emptiness, Father Fahnestock added, but in gratitude there is an awareness that someday they will be reunited through eternal life.

"We celebrate that eternal life today."

Charismatic, handsome, charming with an infectious smile, Guzman will be remembered most for one thing:

"One thing truly was certain," said aunt Susan Alvarez. "His life was a testimony to joy. Anthony, you will be soaring in God's hands and our hearts forever."