Army Sgt. Charles Wyckoff, who was buried today at Arlington National Cemetery, always managed to stay out of trouble growing up in Chula Vista, Calif.
"He was the good one," his aunt, Tina Perez, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "All of our nephews were in prison. He never got into gangs, he never got into drugs."
Wyckoff was also the first member of his family to graduate from college. He earned a degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona.
"He was a winner in our family," his aunt told the Union-Tribune.
Caption: Sgt. Charles E. Wyckoff poses before the U.S. flag in this photo courtesy of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Wyckoff joined the Army to go to flight school but ended up going to Afghanistan as an infantry sergeant. He talked to his mother less than a month ago.
"He said, 'Mom, I'm getting scared, the war is getting worse,'" his mother, Sylvia Wyckoff, told the Union-Tribune.
On May 30, Wyckoff exited a helicopter just before it lifted off and was shot down. All seven on board were killed. One week later he was fatally wounded by small arms fire while on patrol in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.
Hand-in-hand, his widow, Erika, and his two small stepchildren, Joshua and Alexandra, led the procession of mourners to today's graveside service.
"He was a man you could lean on, depend on, and trust," Erika said in a statement.
Wyckoff, 28, was the 335th casualty of the war in Afghanistan. Another 3,513 Americans have died in Iraq.