When Chris Vaile was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device in January 2008, the Marine Corps sergeant refused to leave his squad in Iraq.
It was his final tour. The wound permanently left shrapnel in his foot and earned him a Purple Heart, but he would not leave.
"He was fearless and full of adventure," Cara Vaile said of her son.
Chris Jarrod Vaile, 25, a Randallstown native, was killed Sunday by an IED in Afghanistan, where he was working for a private security firm. The bomb exploded while Vaile was riding in a vehicle, killing him and another man, his mother said.
"He's taken many roads; this was another," his mother said. "He took a risk every day. He was always so fortunate — so many of his buddies were killed."
Vaile graduated from the Carver Center for Arts & Technology, where he played varsity lacrosse for four years and was a culinary arts major. He loved cooking but didn't have much time for it after he joined the Marines.
Vaile enlisted in 2003 at age 17. His lifelong friend, cousin, lacrosse teammate and "brother," Adam Stewart, also joined the military, choosing the Army.
"He was a point of strength," Stewart said.
"We were brothers to the end," he said, who "did everything together."
Stewart said Vaile loved the military and "was an adventurer. He lived life to the fullest." He said Vaile was blunt, but also kind and extremely loyal.
Vaile served until 2008, earning the rank of sergeant and serving three tours in Iraq. He swam on a Marines swimming team while stationed in Okinawa, Japan, his mother said.
Vaile left the military after five years to work for SOC Inc., a consulting and security management company based in Nevada.
His mother said he liked the job, which he'd had for 10 months, but "he always loved the military. I always thought he would go back."
She said he also "loved fast cars, fast food and lacrosse." After serving in Iraq, he bought a sports car.
He had planned to return to marry his fiancee, Lauren McGowan, and wanted to have four or five children, his mother said. The couple planned to move to California.
"This is my only child. It makes it very hard," she said. "I am just going to take this day by day. I'm going to love him and miss him."
Vaile's body has not yet been brought home.
No funeral arrangements had been made, his mother said.