As a child, Franklin A. Sweger was fascinated with chemistry _ conducting experiments and studying the topic in his spare time. As an adult, he planned to pursue a degree in the subject after completing his military service.
"I'd walk out in the garage and there would be these foaming saucers," Frank Sweger recalled of the son he nicknamed Little Thunder.
"Frankie was always a handful," Sweger said. "It was tough to slow him down."
The 24-year-old from San Antonio was killed Dec. 16 in Iraq's Anbar province. He was based in Hawaii.
The Marine was depressed when he first arrived in Iraq but was more upbeat in recent weeks, said his mother, Susie Hernandez.
"Don't worry about me," she recalled him saying in their last conversation. "I think I'm going to make it."
"He was always making everybody laugh," Hernandez said. "He loved everybody. He was just so full of love and laughter and joy."
Published online on Jan. 28, 2005