Stephen M. Wells took his three sons on walks, built rockets with them and helped them stargaze with a telescope. His first priority was his family, his mother said.
"I can''t explain in words what kind of young man he was," Elizabeth Wells said of her son. "He''s always been joyful and laughing and used to find the better part of things."
The 29-year-old helicopter pilot from Egremont, Mass., died Feb. 25 when his helicopter crashed into the Euphrates River in Habbaniyah, Iraq. He was stationed at Fort Carson, Colo.
Chief Warrant Officer Wells joined the Army shortly after high school. He served in Bosnia, Thailand, and South Korea.
"I couldn''t have been prouder of anybody," John Wells said of his son. "What keeps me going is that he was doing what he wanted. It was his job, and he went. He was well on his way to a happy life."
Survivors include his wife, Tosha, and his sons, ages 9, 6 and 5.