Steven A. Rintamaki was adopted as a child and had never met his biological parents. He decided to call them before leaving for the war in Iraq.
He met Stacey Swinson, his mother, the day he called.
"As soon as I had rounded this corner, our eyes connected and we just knew it was each other," Swinson said. "He came up to me and gave me a huge hug and we held each other for what seemed like eternity but I know it was only a few minutes."
Rintamaki, of Lynnwood, Wash., died Sept. 16 in action in Anbar province, Iraq. He was based at Camp Pendleton.
In a letter written the day before he died, Rintamaki told his youngest sister that he had grown into the man he wanted to be and was at peace with himself.
"He's my brother, you know ... like a father figure to me, big brother, being protective and stuff," Tiarra Rintamaki said.
Rintamaki is also survived by his adoptive mother, Myra Rintamaki.