Army Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata grew up in the small town of Pecos, Texas, played high school football and joined the Army as a teenager to make it his career.
"Whatever he was required to do, he was willing to do," said his cousin Javier Contreras. "Even giving his life for his country."
Villareal Mata, 35, was a member of the 507th Maintenance Company and was killed when his convoy was attacked March 23.
Villareal Mata is survived by his wife, Nancili, and his children, Eric, 16, and Stephani, 7.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeremiah Saiz, who worked in the same office with Mata, said Mata knew everything about the vehicles he worked on, from electrical systems to engine mechanics.
"Everyone wanted to be around him," Saiz said. "He was the most knowledgeable in his area of expertise."