GILROY, Calif. - On his last call home in late October, Jeramy Ailes predicted his Marine unit would be pushing soon into Fallujah.
He also told his father he was looking forward to coming home so he could fish and go snowboarding. He never made it back.
Ailes was one of five Marines killed Monday in Al Anbar Province toward the end of the U.S. military's effort to retake Fallujah from insurgents, the Department of Defense reported.
"It was after the city was 100 percent contained," said his father, Joel Ailes. "He survived 12 or 14 days of that on the front lines. They were backtracking coming back. His group was basically ambushed by somebody who was faking they were dead. The guy just jumped up and shot him."
Ailes was killed less than two weeks after his 22nd birthday.
A 2001 high school graduate, Jeramy Ailes enlisted with several of his friends after the Sept. 11 attacks.
He served two tours in Iraq, the first from February to May 2003 in Nasiriya. His father said his son was moved by the plight of Iraqi families and said he wrote home asking for soccer balls to hand out to children.
"He didn't go in to kill people. He went in to help people," Joel Ailes said. "His first tour of duty he gave away almost $300 to families. You can feed a family for $10 a month in Nasiriya."
He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.
After his first tour, Jeramy Ailes described conditions for the Marines and soldiers in Iraq to a reporter for the hometown Gilroy Dispatch. He talked about awaking one night to find a hand-sized camel spider on his chest and about the misery of drinking hot water from canteens on hot days.
He knew his unit would be returning but said his attitude was to simply "suck it up."
"We need to get our boys home as soon as we can," Joel Ailes said. "But they have a job to do, and we need to let them get it done."
He also is survived by his mother, Lana, and sisters Janay, 23, Jenny, 14, and Leah, 12.