Jonathan R. Kephart thought he might be a police officer one day, but first he joined the military.
"He thought that the experience he would gain in the Army would help him to mature and grow," said Kephart's father, Burton Kephart.
Spc. Kephart, 21, of Oil City, Pa., died April 9 of wounds received a day earlier when his patrol was ambushed near Baghdad.
He was based in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
He graduated from high school in Seneca in 2000 and joined the Army in January 2002.
When he died, he had been in Iraq 10 days. His parents last heard from him in a message left on their answering machine April 7.
"He told us that he was fine, he was settling in, he was very busy and had a lot of missions and that he would call us when he could," Burton Kephart said.
He said his son was quiet and hardworking, with a "tremendous sense of humor."
"Jonathan believed in what he was doing," Burton Kephart said. "He was fighting for freedom for America."
Besides his parents, Jonathan Kephart leaves behind a brother and two sisters.