Garden City Cindy Upchurch had just put a care package in the mail when she heard the news - her soldier son would never be able to open it.
The Army announced Tuesday that Spc. Clinton R. Upchurch, 31, of Garden City, was killed Saturday near the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. He was the gunner on one of three Humvees that were escorting higher-ranked officials.
He is the 22nd Kansan to die in the war in Iraq.
"(The Army representatives) said he died a hero, that he saved his guys," Cindy Upchurch said. "Knowing Clint, I'm not surprised he died defending them."
The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee and enemy forces fired on him. He had joined the Army in August 2004 and was assigned to Fort Campbell, Ky., in March 2005. Before that, he worked for the Finney County Sheriff's Office.
Now, Upchurch waits for the body to arrive home and for her youngest son - husband of Kari, stepfather and foster father, high school football player, Christian and fourth-generation Garden City resident - to be laid to rest.
He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., and there will be memorial services at Fort Campbell and in Garden City.