As a child, Andrew D. Russoli played with G.I. Joes and did reconnaissance in the back yard.
"He used to dress up in camouflage, and he and his friends used to go to the creek and play 'creek control' and look for the bad guys," said his mother, Sally White.
Russoli, 21, of Greensboro, N.C., was killed Oct. 20 near Nasser Wa Salaam by an explosion. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.
"I think he was born to do this, just not for as long as I thought," White said. "He was a very good son. He gave the greatest bear hugs you could ever want."
He was a poet with an infectious laugh who was always on the lookout for sublime movie quotes.
Russoli, who graduated from high school in 2003, was serving his second tour. He had previously been awarded a Purple Heart for injuries he received during his first tour, when a roadside bomb caused his vehicle to flip upside-down.
Russoli was a trombone player in his middle school jazz band. When he was 10, he learned how to fence. When there were no students his age to compete against, he fenced against adults _ and won.
He also is survived by his father, Roland.