A 2001 graduate of George P. Butler High School who was to come home for Christmas on Monday was killed in Iraq on Thursday.
Army Spc. Joseph Alan Lucas, 23, was fatally wounded while serving with an armored squadron of the 3rd Infantry Division in Balad, about 40 miles north of Baghdad.
He was based at Fort Stewart.
He is survived by his wife and high school sweetheart, Heather, and their 16-month-old son, Joseph Jr.
They recently purchased a house on Beacon Drive, where they planned to raise their son, Mrs. Lucas said Friday night.
"We were actually going to move in it, and do something different in Augusta, in the civilian world," she said. "He wanted to be a Georgia state trooper."
This was Spc. Lucas' second deployment to Iraq. His tour of duty was supposed to end April 15.
"He was actually supposed to be leaving Dec. 19 for Christmastime," Mrs. Lucas said.
Spc. Lucas, who grew up in Maine, moved to Georgia with his mother, Barbara Davis Lynce, about nine years ago and joined the Army in the spring of 2002.
Spc. Lucas and Mrs. Lucas were married in November 2002, a few months before the invasion of Iraq, but had been dating since 2000.
"We actually have been together since he was in the 10th grade, and I was in the ninth grade," Mrs. Lucas said.
They both knew each other through friends and worked together while in high school at the McDonald's restaurant on Peach Orchard Road.
"We went on two dates, and we decided from then just to date each other," she said.
She said her husband, who played soccer in high school for about three years, loved the sport and loved to keep in touch with her and their new son through instant messenger services on the Internet.
"We used the Webcam so he could see me and the baby," she said.
During his first tour in Iraq, as a private first class, he wrote a letter home that was published in The Augusta Chronicle, thanking people for the support he received from the homefront.
"I just want to say 'hello' to all my friends and family ... and thanks to everyone else who supports their troops from Augusta," then-Pfc. Lucas wrote.
"I couldn't have gotten through this war if it wasn't for the support of my loving wife ... I love all of you, and thanks. I'm coming home soon.
Mrs. Lucas said she plans on staying in Augusta and raising her son at the house they purchased this fall, but she's currently staying with friends elsewhere.
"I do plan on living in it and raising our son, but right now, it's too painful to stay there," she said.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete for Spc. Lucas.
Associated Press reports were used in this article.
Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.