When Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Kilian Dozier first arrived in Iraq last year, he sat down to pen what would be the only handwritten letter he'd send home to his father in Chesapeake.
"It was just news, telling me what was going on," Carl Dozier, a retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel, said Friday.
But he wrote it, articulating his feelings with his own hand. He touched it. Mailed it.
"He told me things were getting ready to start happening," Carl said. "He told me he was getting ready to start running missions, that he was confident in his guys, that he had not finalized his will."
Dozier would send countless e-mails to his family before Wednesday, when the 30-year-old Chesapeake native was killed during combat operations in the Diyala province of central Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Dozier enlisted in the Army in 1997 and deployed to Iraq Aug. 16, marking his first trip to the war zone.
He was one of the six soldiers with the Germany-based 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division killed in Diyala when a bomb exploded in a house booby-trapped by insurgents, the Pentagon confirmed Friday.
"I talked to Jon Monday," Carl Dozier said. "He had called his sister (in Chesapeake) and his mother (in Portsmouth) on Saturday. We spent about 22 minutes on the phone. He said they were getting ready to go out and I wouldn't hear from him for a while and he would call when he got back. He sounded good."
When a car pulled up to Carl's house Wednesday and uniformed soldiers from Fort Eustis got out, Carl knew something was wrong.
"I knew. I went to the door. Opened it."
"How bad is it?" he asked them. "As soon as they started saying 'the Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you,' I knew how bad it was."
Staff Sgt. Dozier had told his father that he was prepared to die.
"But he said, 'I don't want to die for nothing,' " Carl said.
Before deploying, Staff Sgt. Dozier asked Carl, "Is it weird to really want to do this?"
"No," Carl said he told him. "This is what you're trained to do."
Working in the military was something his son wanted to continue to do. Staff Sgt. Dozier's plan when he returned from Iraq was to get into Special Forces training.
"He had career goals, was planning on staying in the Army," Carl said. "He just re-upped (to stay in the Army) for an additional 18 months. He wanted to study Farsi. He was thinking about the future. And his future was looking good.
"You never plan on having to bury your son," Carl added. "I knew there was always the risk because of the profession he was in. He wasn't a wrench turner or a pencil pusher. He was the tip of the spear."
Following a small memorial ceremony that will be held in Hampton Roads, Staff Sgt. Dozier will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
"He was a warrior and I want him..." Carl said, his voice trailing off momentarily as he choked back tears, "buried where the warriors are buried."