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OGDEN -- A Utah family is grieving for their hero son killed in combat in Afghanistan. Army Staff Sgt. Kurt R. Curtiss' family says the 27-year-old was shot and killed earlier this week as he helped evacuate a hospital.
"He just wanted to make a difference," said his sister, Lynn Burr. "He wanted to help keep everybody safe, especially his family."
He just wanted to make a difference.
–Lynn Burr, Curtiss' sister
Curtiss joined the Army the day after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. His mother, Ruth Serrano, says during the last eight years he deployed twice to Iraq and had been in Afghanistan nearly a year.
She said he loved his country and his service in the Army. Ruth Serrano last talked to her son several weeks ago. At that time, she says she had a sense-- a mother's intuition-- that danger was growing for him in Afghanistan.
"When he told me that he loved me, his voice quivered," said Serrano. "He had that quiver in his voice, and for some reason I just knew that something was wrong."
When the family got the call from the Army two days ago, she knew immediately what had happened.
The Army tells the family Curtiss was shot and killed in the Sar Howzeh District of Paktika Province as he helped evacuate a hospital under fire. "He was the first one in the door, and he was caught in the crossfire," said his mother.
No other soldiers were injured in the fight.
August has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the eight-year war.
As a member of the 101st Airborne, Curtiss went into Iraq early in that war, his mother said.
"He was infantry, so he was right in the middle of it. He was wounded a couple of times," she said.
Curtiss served two tours in Iraq and then transferred to Fort Richardson in Alaska. His wife, who is a Kearns native, and two young children had been living there. Curtiss was born in Arizona but grew up in Salt Lake City.
His mother will always remember him as the boy who could make anyone laugh.
"He was quite the joker," she said. "He could cheer up anybody."
Other family members are headed to Delaware to bring the body home Sunday. They plan a candlelight vigil Monday night. It's still too early for funeral plans.