An explosion in Northern Iraq killed Marine Sgt. Jayton D. Patterson of Wakefield over the weekend, a few weeks before he was due to come home.
Patterson, 26, spoke with his parents on Friday night just hours before he was killed on patrol by an improvised explosive device.
Attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Patterson was deployed in mid-June last year hitting the ground in the Middle East in early July.
He was so close to returning from the deployment that his wife, Stephanie, on Saturday received a package of things he sent home the same day that the family was told of his death.
Frank Patterson said that the elections were supposed to mark the end of the deployment and bring his son home to his wife and the couple's 15-month old daughter, Claire. Now Claire Patterson will be a window to the past.
"He left us a beautiful granddaughter," Frank Patterson said. "We can see him in her eyes."
Drawn to the uniform in part because both his grandfathers served in the Navy, Jayton Patterson told his parents that serving in the military was something he was called to do.
He spent his first four years in the Marines in Washington where he was part of the White House security detail.
The high-profile post gave Patterson a firsthand look at the wreckage of the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, his father said, which helped steel his resolve.
"He went with the president on a detail to the Pentagon," Frank Patterson said. "And a few days later he went with the president to the site of the World Trade Center attacks in New York."
In Wakefield, Patterson was something of a local hero for school-aged children who routinely sent the homegrown soldier thank you letters and care packages during his deployment.
"He wrote every single one of those kids back," Frank Patterson said. "He was well-known in this community."
The Department of Defense has not released the details surrounding Patterson's death, but his father said that the family got some basic information from the troops that arrived on Saturday.
"They said it was probably remotely tripped," Frank Patterson said "And he was most likely killed instantly, so he didn't suffer."
Fighting back emotion, Frank Patterson said his son was full of hope during their final conversation.
"He said 'Daddy we're doing some good things over here for these people,' " Patterson said. "He died a proud American."
WAVY TV-10 contributed to this report.
Local Marine killed in northern Iraq
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