At Dewayne L. White's funeral, the bereaved managed to laugh a few times. Such as when White's sister Nekita Miller shared memories.
"I'll always remember how you tickled me so hard it made me sick to my stomach and how you ate all the food off my plate when I couldn't finish," she said.
White, 27, of Country Club Hills, Ill., was killed by a roadside bomb Dec. 4 in Bayji. He was assigned to Fort Campbell and was less than three months into his second tour of duty.
"He would take the burden off everybody else's shoulders and carry it himself," said his brother, DeShaun. "We have to continue to be happy. DeWayne wouldn't want us to be sad."
White earned his GED and trained to be a welder through a Job Corps program. In 2004, White and his brother volunteered for the Army together.
"He never liked to talk about what he was going through, the dangers of fighting over there," said White's mother, Sandra Miller. "He'd say, 'Mom, don't watch the news.' He didn't want me to worry about him."
He also is survived by his wife, Syneca.
"He was a gentle soul who had a beautiful heart," his brother said.