Chase Stanley was eager to join the Army. When he was a teenager, his bedroom was covered in Army posters and he often sported an Army T-shirt, said his sister, Britney Stanley. Even before he signed up for boot camp, he would go to extra training sessions.
Growing up in the rugged terrain of the Capell Valley area of Napa, Stanley enjoyed hiking, fishing and hunting with his father. After graduating from Napa High School, he enlisted at age 17, along with two friends.
"It's kind of always what he wanted to do. It was the path he followed," his sister said. "He was certainly prepared for it, always hiking and being active, always hunting."
Chase Stanley was the youngest of three children, each of whom had his or her own treehouse, which they helped to build, said Britney Stanley, 23. "When we were kids, we were always outside," she said. "We didn't have cable TV or video games. We had hiking trails."
Stanley's family was worried about his decision to join the Army but knew that he loved the outdoors and that he had spent his life preparing for a military career, his sister said.
Stanley, 21, a specialist, was assigned to the 27th Engineer Battalion (Combat Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He had spent 15 months in Iraq before he deployed to Afghanistan in December.
He was killed July 14, just shy of his 22nd birthday, when insurgents using an improvised explosive device attacked the military vehicle in which he was riding. Three other soldiers also died in the attack.
Before he left for Afghanistan last year, Stanley returned to Napa to spend Thanksgiving with his family. On that and other visits, his sister said, he never complained about his time overseas or in the Army.
Although he could be quiet at first, Stanley often entertained the family with jokes and pranks, his sister said. "If you got to know him well," she said, "he had a lot of one-liners."
Stanley was not much for writing letters, his sister said. But he often called home to speak to his mother, who sent him packages filled with beef jerky, homemade cookies and DVDs.
"He made it sound less dangerous than it was," Britney Stanley said. "He didn't want her to worry. He didn't want anyone to worry about him."
Along with his sister, Stanley is survived by his parents, Nylind and Debbie Stanley of Napa, and his brother Ryan, 26.