When Sgt. Ryan P. Baumann told his family five years ago that he wanted to join the Army, relatives say they knew it was coming.
Sergeant Baumann spent eight years of his childhood in Germany, where he picked up a foreign language and learned the ins and outs of Army life.
"Ryan grew up around the miliary," said his mother, Cindy Lohman, who worked as a civilian nurse on a base in Germany. "It didn't surprise me. His heroes were guys in the 82nd [Airborne Division]. And he was a post 9-11 child, so he felt very committed to doing something to protect this country."
Sergeant Baumann. 24, a motor transport operator with the 101st Airborne Division, died in Afghanistan on Friday from injuries suffered after his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device, according to the Department of Defense. .
Born in Ohio, Sergeant Baumann moved with his mother, stepfather and sister to Neuenburg when he was 5. Sergeant Baumann's stepfather was working toward a doctorate, while his mother began working as a civilian nurse.
Sergeant Baumann attended German schools, but celebrated many Fourth of Julys watching fireworks with soldiers.
"He kept saying he wanted to be part of the 101st, and he got in and did a good job. He really wanted to stay in and have it be a career. His e-mail was Army for Life," Ms. Lohman said.
Sergeant Baumann returned with his family to the United States and settled in Maryland. After graduating from Great Mills High School, he joined the Army in May 2004 and arrived at Fort Campbell, Ky., in September 2004.
When he was a senior in high school, Sergeant Baumann met his future fiancee, Lauren Smith. The two were to have been married Jan. 10, 2009.
Ms. Smith said Sergeant Baumann proposed to her atop a mountain in Tennessee. The two spent countless days hiking and enjoying the outdoors.
"I loved everything about him," Ms. Smith said. "I loved the fact that he had to be the best at everything. He really put his all into everything he did."Sergeant Baumann's base in Kentucky allowed him to be closer to his father, Robert Baumann of Jeffersonville, Ind.
"When he got stationed at Ft. Campbell, I was ecstatic," Mr. Baumann said. "He'd come up every other weekend to spend time together."
Along with his mother and father, Sergeant Baumann is survived by his sister, Christina Baumann of Phoenix.
A memorial service for Sergeant Baumann will be held in Maryland, and he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.