Jon Bonnell Jr. loved to play baseball and enjoyed drawing, but his real passion was to become a Marine.
That patriotism prompted him to joint the military out of high school and took him to Iraq, where the 22-year-old Marine sergeant was killed last week after stepping on a bomb in the Al Anbar province.
Friends and family packed the Fort Dodge High School gymnasium on Monday for the funeral.
Bonnell, tasked with finding and disarming bombs, had told his family even before graduating from high school here in 2003 that his future was with the Marines.
"J.J. knew the threat he faced, but without complaint he searched for the bombs on behalf of the Iraqi people and for his fellow soldiers," said the Rev. Bill Kerns, addressing 500 mourners.
Serving the unit had its risks, but his family said Bonnell loved the Marines too much to not re-enlist earlier this year.
Tasha Rork, one of the Marine's sisters, was emotional as she read parts of Bonnell's last letter home, dated July 6.
"I know you don't like me being here, but I love this job," the sergeant wrote in the letter.