Pearson, 21, of the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Ill., quit what he figured was a dead-end furniture company job to join the military about a year ago. Pearson's mother, Sheryll Pearson, said the 2006 Bolingbrook High School graduate joined the military because he was eager to serve his country and broaden his horizons. "He was the best son in the whole world," she said. "He was my best friend, and I miss him."
SPC. JASON DEAN HUNT
Hunt, 22, of Frederick, Okla., went into the military after graduating from Tipton High School in 2005 and had gotten married just two months ago, his mother, Gale Hunt, said. He had served 3 1/2 years in the Army, including a stint in Iraq. Hunt, known as J.D., was "just kind of a quiet boy and a good kid, very kind," said Kathy Gray, an administrative assistant at Tipton Public Schools. His mother said he was family-oriented. "He didn't go in for hunting or sports," she said. "He was a very quiet boy who enjoyed video games."
MICHAEL GRANT CAHILL
Cahill, a 62-year-old physician assistant, of Cameron, Texas, had a heart attack two weeks ago and returned to work at the base as a civilian employee after taking one week off for recovery, said his daughter Keely Vanacker. "He survived that. He was getting back on track, and he gets killed by a gunman," Vanacker said. Cahill helped treat soldiers returning from tours of duty or preparing for deployment. Often, Vanacker said, Cahill would walk young soldiers where they needed to go, just to make sure they got the right treatment. "He loved his patients, and his patients loved him," said Vanacker, 33, the oldest of Cahill's three adult children. "He just felt his job was important."