When Fred L. Maciel last phoned his mom, there was plenty of laughing. That was normal.
"She was giggling a lot _ he was probably making her laugh. He always made her laugh," said Richard Garza, his stepfather. "They were very, very close. In fact, they had never been apart till he went to the Marines."
Maciel, 20, of Spring, Texas, died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash near Rutbah. He graduated high school in 2003 and was based at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
In that last phone call, Maciel sounded upbeat, maybe because he was almost finished with his tour. He was to head to Japan on Jan. 30 before returning to Hawaii and then home. Maybe it was because he and his fiancee, Jamie Hommel, were going to get married when he got back. The rings and the wedding dress were ready.
Katrina Matthews, Maciels stepsister, said Maciel loved children, and her children loved him. "They just idolized him," Matthews said. "He was a kind, caring, loving person."
He also is survived by his father, Fred Copenhaver; and mother, Patsy Maciel.
"He was a kind son," Copenhaver said. "He'd basically do anything for anybody."