The actress “was very nice and very respectful,” an enlisted Marine who attended the Greenville, N.C., ball tells PEOPLE. “She gets credit and a lot of respect for coming here, not being part of this world and following through on her word.”
Kunis, 28, who dazzled in black as the date of Sgt. Scott Moore, took in Marine traditions, such as a birthday cake ceremony, in which the oldest and youngest Marines slice and eat the first serving of the cake.
“She seemed to like the traditions,” the Marine says. “They made her smile.”
And she may have been the belle of the ball, but attendees say the real focus of the night was on honoring those who were not in attendance: the seven in Moore’s unit who died on duty.
“Thanks for all the support!” Moore – who asked Kunis out via YouTube with a fellow Marine when he was serving his second combat deployment in Afghanistan – Tweeted before the big night. “Tonight is for you 7 Betio Bastards!”
The “Betio Bastards” is the nickname for Moore’s unit, the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. The name pays homage to a bloody World War II battle fought in the Pacific.
“We had a rough deployment,” the Marine attendee adds. “We lost six Marines and a corpsman. Scott made sure everyone knew, he wasn’t at the ball for himself. He was there for the ones who could only be with us in spirit.”