When Marine Lance Cpl. Travis J. Layfield was a boy, he would plunk down on the sofa, grab the remote control and turn on the History Channel.
"He would watch documentaries on war, on World War II," said Layfield's cousin Ashley Mills, 19, of Tracy, Calif. "Our grandfather was a Navy Seabee. I think that had a major influence on him."
Layfield was in the Navy ROTC at Washington High School in Fremont, and proudly posed in uniform for pictures when he graduated from the program.
A visit to the school by a Marine Corps recruiter left such a strong impression on the Fremont teenager that he enlisted right after graduating last year.
"This was it. He thought this would be his career -- the Marines," said his sister, Tiffany Bolton, 31. "We were very proud of him."
Layfield, 19, was killed Tuesday during a battle in Al Anbar province in Iraq. He was among 24 Camp Pendleton Marines killed last week, the majority, like Layfield, from the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
Family members said Layfield was enthusiastic about going to Iraq.
"He always said he was excited to go," Mills said. "But you could see in his face that he was a little scared.... He always assured us he was ready to go and that he would come back."
Layfield was sent overseas on Feb. 16, first to Germany, then to Kuwait and finally to Iraq. Bolton said the family thought he would be deployed somewhere in northern Iraq, where the paroxysms of insurgency were not as severe.
"He said he had the best platoon," his sister said. "He was very proud to be a Marine."
In addition to his sister, Layfield is survived by his mother, Diane Bolton Layfield of Fremont; his father, John Layfield, also of Fremont; and two brothers, Todd, 33; and Tyler, 17.
Funeral arrangements were pending.