As an Army Ranger, he survived two tours in Iraq. But this "gentle giant" from Wisconsin didn't survive a parachute training exercise.
His family believes complications from the brain injury the 22-year-old soldier sustained last May when his parachute failed to open during a practice jump led to his death just over a week ago.
The soldier was from Jackson, a village north of Milwaukee; he graduated from West Bend High School in 2007.
In an interview with WTMJ radio, his mother called her 6'5" son "a gentle giant" blessed with personal strength and fortitude.
The soldier's father said that in his son's accident at Fort Lewis, the parachute "didn't open all the way, so he did a spiral and landed on his head from 1,200 feet."
He was strong enough to survive that accident, but the injuries kept him from his Ranger duties.
His mother said after the fall, her son suffered memory losses and sleep problems, as well as severe headaches.
He had previously suffered concussions while serving in Iraq, carrying out missions with the elite special forces group to which he'd been assigned.
One of the soldier's high school teachers said the young man "loved his country" and wanted to help make other people's lives better.
While he certainly did that with his service to his nation, it's tragic that his young life came to an end so soon.
Last week at Fort Lewis, some of his comrades found him collapsed and unresponsive in his living quarters on the base.
A few days ago, he was buried with full military honors.
Resource: WTMJ: "Wisconsin Army Ranger Dies On Base": January 27, 2011