"He was tall, slender, cleancut, handsome. A clown."
That's how Judy King, of Meridian, described her son, Sgt. Jeremy E. King, who at 23 was the 19th service member from Idaho to die since the U.S. began its war on terrorism in October 2001.
King died early Thursday morning in Baghdad from injuries after being shot during combat. He was assigned to the 8th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, in Fort Hood, Texas. It was his second tour in Iraq.
On Friday, his family and friends described themselves as being shocked and numb.
"It's tearing everyone up," said Judy King, when asked how she, her husband, Bob, and daughter-in-law, Yulanda, were doing.
"We have our spurts where everyone cries. We keep leaving our computers on, hoping they made a mistake, hoping to get an e-mail from him. We know they have it right, but in your mind, you keep ... It hasn't sunk in."
Judy King last saw her son when he came home in May for the birth of his daughter, Kaidyn. King's wife and daughter have been living with his parents.
The May visit was a chance for lots of family photos and reconnecting with friends.
Jeremy was one of two best men in Billy Calkins' wedding during that leave. King, Calkins and the other best man, Padraic Brunton, have been best friends since elementary school.
"I scheduled my marriage around (King's leave) so he could be in it," said Calkins, of Nampa. "We grew up together. We did everything together. He was the only friend I didn't get in trouble with."
Brunton said King always wanted to help people and cheer them up. "He helped me through problems in life, talking through them," he said. "He had a lot of courage, wasn't really afraid of anything."
"I never thought this would happen," said Brunton. "But I want people to remember that he died serving this country."
"He died for us," said Calkins.
King dropped out of Meridian High School, but entered the Job Corps and got his GED, his mother said. He joined the Army after that.
He asked his mom for homemade fingersteaks when he came home. He loved them so much, he wasn't shy about asking Calkins' mom, Tanya Calkins, to make them as well. "He loved his fingersteaks," she said.
"He was like a son to me," she said. "He had such a great sense of humor. People were just drawn to him."
Billy Calkins last saw his friend when he boarded the plane for the trip back to Iraq. "He never wanted to talk about (Iraq)," he said. "We didn't say much when they started loading. I said goodbye and gave him a hug."
The family last connected via e-mail a few days before his last mission. Jeremy wrote that it was hot and he had a lot of time on his hands.
He was a "wonderful human being," his mother, Judy, said. "Responsible. Loving. Courteous. Caring."
Services will be planned through Chapel of the Chimes Funeral Home in Meridian, but the date is still uncertain. King's body will be buried at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery.
Prayer chains for the King family have started at the First Baptist Church of Kuna and the First Baptist Church of Meridian.