Pvt. Shawn Pahnke grew up with military pride.
His father was a Vietnam veteran, and his grandfather served in World War II. Pahnke was fulfilling his lifelong dream to serve in the military, said his father, Tom Pahnke.
"His last letters he talked about how proud he was to be a soldier," the elder Pahnke said. "He was glad that he was finally doing what he was trained to do."
Pahnke, 25, who lived in Shelbyville, Ind., enlisted in October after getting married, and served with the 1st Armored Division''s 1st Brigade. He was killed by a sniper shot in Iraq on June 16.
Tom Pahnke said his son missed the birth of his child, Dean, on March 20, but was able to speak with his wife, Elisha, on a cell phone.
"She had Shawn on the phone talking to him while she had the baby," Tom Pahnke said. "Shawn was able to hear the baby cry for the first time and know that he had a son."