Michael Pearson (AP Photo)
Pearson, 21, of the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Ill., quit what he figured was a dead-end furniture company job to join the military about a year ago.
"He felt he was in a rut. He wanted to travel, see the world," his mother, Sheryll Pearson, told the Chicago Tribune. "He also wanted an opportunity to serve the country."
At Pearson's family home Friday, a yellow ribbon was tied to a porch light and a sticker stamped with American flags on the front door read, "United we stand."
Neighbor Jessica Koerber, who was with Pearson's parents when they received word Thursday their son had died, described him as a man who clearly loved his family — someone who enjoyed horsing around with his nieces and nephews, and other times playing his guitar.
"That family lost their gem," she told the AP. "He was a great kid, a great guy. ... Mikey was one of a kind."
Sheryll Pearson said she hadn't seen her son for a year because he had been training. She told the Tribune that when she last talked to him on the phone two days ago, they had discussed how he would come home for Christmas.
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