Army Specialist Crayton Caswell was just 23 years old when he told his mother, Karen Jones of Flint, that he enlisted in the military.
"He knew he'd go. He knew that right up front and he said that was okay," says Karen.
Crayton was deployed to Iraq from Fort Riley, Kansas in September, and for the last 9 months, things have gone pretty well for his unit.
"He's called me before and said that IEDs had hit, and it had blown up parts of vehicles up, but nobody ever got hurt. I think they kind of felt a little invincible," says Karen.
Then, last Friday, that all changed.
"The vehicle in front of him, so he would be the second vehicle on the convoy, got hit with the IED and two of the men were critically wounded. One of them died on the scene.
Twenty-two year old Specialist Benjamin Ashley was a friend of Crayton's and the first person Crayton has known to be killed in action. In a phone call on Sunday, Karen says she could hear her son was shaken by the incident.
"He said, 'I treated them; before the medic came, I was in charge of treating them.' And he said one of them didn't make it, and I could tell by the tone of his voice that, all of a sudden, the war was different to him," says Karen.
Now, it's different for her, too.
"There is an immediate danger that you're confronted with all of a sudden. You realize that you really could lose somebody there. It could have been him," says Karen.
Crayton is scheduled to come home on leave for his 25th birthday in the next few days. Then, he will return to Iraq to finish his tour.