At Aurora massacre, many victims died protecting others

(CBS News) DENVER, Colo. - At the memorial service in Aurora, Colo., Sunday night, the mourners made a solemn vow -- to never forget those who lost their lives in that movie theater on Friday and the heroism of those who sacrificed their lives for others.

Nobody died alone in Aurora that night.

From left to right: Jon Blunk, Alex Teves and Matt McQuinn were killed at a midnight movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., Friday while protecting their girlfriends from bullets.
From left to right: Jon Blunk, Alex Teves and Matt McQuinn were killed at a midnight movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., Friday while protecting their girlfriends from bullets.
CBS News/Personal Photos

The 12 who lost their lives all went to the movies with a relative, a spouse, or a friend.

Matt McQuinn dove in front of his girlfriend and her older brother to shield them from the gunfire. They lived. He didn't.

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John Larimer, who had just joined the Navy, stood between life and death for his girlfriend too.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress saved the life of fellow airman beside him.

And Jonathan Blunk pushed his friend Jansen Young to the floor and lay on top of her.

"Even after I was thrown under the seats I kept thinking, 'This is it, I'm going to die,'" Young said.

He took the bullet instead of her.

"I don't know how to give my life back to someone who has given their life to me. How do you do that?" said Young.

It's stories like these that are offering comfort for those left behind, whether at memorials popping up on street corners or prayer vigils organized in parks.

"We will honor you by celebrating life," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said at a press conference. "We will honor you by living our lives a little better."

Gov. Hickenlooper read the name of each of the dead out loud Sunday night.

One of those names was Micayla Medek. Micayla -- or Cayla, as her friends called her -- was found on the floor of the theater along with 6-year-old Veronica Moser-Sullivan, the youngest of the dead.

At 51, Gordon Cowdon was the oldest -- a single dad.

Rebecca Wingo was a single mother. She leaves behind two daughters.

Alex Sullivan leaves behind a new wife -- he died two days shy of their first anniversary.

Alexander Teves wanted to be a psychiatrist. Alexander Boik wanted to be an art teacher and Jessica Ghawi wanted to be a journalist. The profession lost a good one, says her boyfriend Jay Meloff.

"She had just an impact in this world, and I want her to still have that impact," Meloff said.

They all had dreams left unfinished, and now the goodbyes begin.

  • Lee Cowan

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