“He was one of the best people I ever knew,” Will Newnham told KTVA as he and his wife, Anngel Norkist, shared their thoughts of their son with at Wasilla’s Armed Forces Honor Garden.

“I kept telling him how proud I was, proud of him regardless, I don’t think I told him enough, I’m more proud of him then he’ll ever know,” said Newnham, father of Private First Class Hansen Kirkpatrick. The 19-year-old from Wasilla died during a battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan on July 3. It happened during his first overseas tour.

“He wanted me to be as proud of him, as he was of me. He told me I was the reason he joined, he wanted to be just like me,” recalled Newnham, who spent 10 years in Afghanistan and Iraq as a contractor, both as a civilian and defense department employee. He also served in the military, which laid the foundation for Hansen’s career path.

Kirkpatrick’s parents moved to Wasilla, but Hansen stayed in Anchorage so he could graduate from Service High School.

“He wanted to be a Cougar,” said Newnham, as again, the son followed the father.

“It’s also the same school Will went to, I didn’t even think of that,” said Norkist.

Kirkpatrick graduated a year early and immediately enlisted in the Army.

“He wanted to be a Green Beret, he hung out with the guys out there, he saw what they did, it’s what he wanted to do,” Newnham said, as he and his wife shared some of their favorite memories of their son. That includes Hansen’s sense of humor.

“He wanted us to have a Grim Reaper in the corner, we discussed it before, he wanted a Grim Reaper at his funeral, kind of sitting there,” recalled Newnham.

The memories are all they have now.

“We take it minute by minute, some minutes are better than others, I’ll break down, one minute, the next, will want to go out and do something, it’s pretty much par for the course at the moment,” said Newnham.

No doubt, may people want to extend their condolences, but “I’m Sorry” is a tough thing to hear right now. “I’m sorry is contrite, and and it doesn’t fix anything,” said

“I’m sorry is contrite and it doesn’t fix anything,” said Norkist, as two parents recall and mourn the loss of their son.