BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- - On a battlefield in far off Afghanistan, the casualties of war hit home again as a Boynton Beach soldier loses his life in combat.
A family and community in Boynton Beach mourned Tuesday evening over the loss of U.S. Army Private Michael Metcalf, 22, who was on his first tour of duty when he was hit by an improvised explosive device on Sunday.
"He just wanted to join the Army. You know he would have loved to have been in special forces or you know but, he didn't make it that far," said Kim Metcalf, the mother of Michael Metcalf.
Kim Metcalf said her son was responsible for responding to other troops in trouble. On Sunday when her son was doing just that, his unit was hit by an I.E.D. that killed Metcalf.
"He just kept saying he'll be okay and I know he fought to the very end and that's it. But he'll be missed by everybody not just me," said Kim Metcalf.
The 22-year-old knew from a young age he wanted to serve his country. After a brief time at Park Vista Community High School, he enrolled at St. John Northwestern Military Academy in Wisconsin. After graduating, Metcalf enlisted in the Army.
"You know, we were all worried at first you know, but it's Mike. Mike would never not come back," said T.J. Fitzgerald, a friend of Metcalf.
It is hard for friends like Fitzgerald to imagine life without the body surfing, bull riding, family man who did not hesitate to show off his fun loving side.
"It's left up to all of us just to carry him on. He's going to be with us right here. We're never going to lose that," said Fitzgerald.
Metcalf was a friend, a warrior and a mother's only child.
"My only one, my whole life. But life goes on and you can't ask why and I'm strong for him and he'll be with me, every minute," said Kim Metcalf.
The soldier's family will travel to Dover, Delaware on Wednesday to bring Metcalf home.
Plans for Metcalf's funeral are still pending.