Those who knew Kane Funke as a high school wrestler or hardened Marine may never have guessed he was born weighing 2 pounds, 6 ounces with a 10 percent chance of survival.
"He came into this world fighting, and he left fighting," said his uncle, Eric Funke.
Kane Funke, 20, of Vancouver, Wash., died Aug. 13 in an explosion in Anbar province. The machine gunner was based at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
By the age of 3, Funke was hyperactive and constantly running on tiptoe, Eric Funke recalled. Within five years, the child had decided he wanted to be a Marine and asked his uncle for old uniforms.
"He''d hide out in people''s back yards at night all cammied up," Eric Funke said.
Funke grew up in Montana before moving to Vancouver and living with his stepfather. Friends say he skipped graduation for boot camp.
In the hours before he died, Kane Funke tried calling his mother Stephanie, but he got voice mail.
"At least I still have his voice on my cell phone," she said. "''Hi, Mom. I love you. I''ll be there in two weeks.''"