But it wasn't overseas or in the line of duty that Thomas Wortham IV lost his life.
Chicago police say Wortham was killed by three people trying to steal his new motorcycle.
Wortham was at his parents' home, when he was approached by the suspects. His father, a retired Chicago police sergeant, came to his son's aid, killing one attacker and critically wounding another. A third was able to escape.
"This is a tragedy. This young man survived two tours in Iraq and came home and got murdered on the streets in front of his house that he grew up in," Alderman Freddrenna Lyle, who has known the officer and his family for years, told the Chicago Tribune. "In front of his father, it's just unbelieveable."
"When they talk about the good die young, this is the perfect example. He was nice. He was mannerable. He was polite."
Sadly, one of the suspects was a 20-year-old named Brian Floyd, according to police. It's a double tragedy that such a young man lost his life trying to pursue material possessions.
Wortham had attended a memorial at the Capitol for officers killed in the line of duty last year and had visited his parents to show them the pictures. It was 11:25 p.m., when he left his parents' home.
The shooting took place across the street from the park that Wortham was working to improve - one of the ways residents have been attempting to confront violence in their neighborhood.
"He was part of a group of residents concerned about the park," Lyle said. "They were working on trying to make sure things went on as they should. He was there all the time. We were getting ready to have a community event this Saturday. ... I don't think we'll have it now.
"After the last shooting in the park (in late April), we were going to take back the park on the first 80 degree day. That was this week. We are not going to give up the park to the thugs. The residents were going to converge there with lawn chairs."
Well, residents should not give up their plans. They should still converge, not only on the park, but throughout the entire area, to take it back. The senseless murder of a young man who not only served his country but his community cannot be tolerated.
Residents should descend on the neighborhood to let the criminals destroying the area know that they have had enough. They need to send the message that they will not tolerate their lives being put at risk for silly material possessionssuch as a motorcycle.
They need to send the message to young people that it is better to work and buy the motorcycle or car you are interested in than trying to steal it.
They need to send the message to young people that it is better to live your life like Wortham, who honored his parents and his community with his service, than living as a destructive force.
If residents do not step up now, they never will.