Joseph P. Goodrich tried to explain why he was a Marine in his last letter to his wife, Amy. He wrote about his childhood visits to the graves of veterans.
"Looking at all the headstones with flags in front of them, I started thinking about who they were, how they lived, how they died and what they did for me," Goodrich wrote. "I swore to myself that I would not let them down. They sacrificed and gave to me something that I could never repay, freedom."
Goodrich, 32, of Allegheny, Pa., was killed July 10 by mortar fire in Hit. He was assigned to Moundsville.
"I never saw him without a smile on his face. I can't look at the front door because that was the first thing I saw when he came to the door, his smile," said his mother, Patricia.
A graduate and criminology major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Goodrich worked as a policeman from 1999 to 2001 before starting a lawn care business.
"When bad things would happen, he would handle it with a take-charge attitude," said Brian Armstrong, a fellow officer who followed him into the Marine Reserve. "That's when the Marine came out of him."