As a middle schooler in Beloit, Tyler Kreinz saw footage of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and knew he wanted to join the military once he graduated from high school in 2008.
"There wasn't anything I could do to talk him out of it," said his father, David.
The young man's determination eventually landed him as a U.S. Army specialist in Afghanistan and cost him his life.
David Kreinz said two military personnel visited his Beloit home on Father's Day to tell him and his wife, Marilyn, that their 21-year-old son had been one of four soldiers killed in Uruzgan province of injuries suffered in a vehicle roll-over Saturday. The soldiers were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Kreinz said the family planned to fly to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday to receive his son's remains.
The fallen soldier was just a youngster when terrorists attacked on 9/11.
"Being a 12-year-old kid, that opened up his eyes so much," his father said. "That's all he talked about, was being in the military."
As a high school senior at Beloit Memorial, Kreinz was in teacher Tony Capozziello's personal finance class, which requires students to devise a career path and financial plan for making ends meet as adults. Capozziello described Kreinz as polite, reserved and single-minded in his mission to serve the country but struggled to find the words as to why.
"If you follow your passion you can't always explain why you have it," he said. "Whatever motivated him was primarily on an internal basis."
Kreinz's father said his son loved hunting, fishing and the outdoors in general and had planned to attend UW-Stevens Point following his military service and study conservation.
Tyler Kreinz's tour in Afghanistan was due to end in February and he would have returned to his base in Baumholder, Germany, in April 2013, his father said.
He's the sixth Wisconsin service member to die in Afghanistan in 2011, already nearly equalling last year's total of seven, by far the highest since the war began.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.