Spc. Clinton Young was eager to cross an ocean and put himself in harm's way to defend his country. But he died in a freak auto accident only a few miles from home.
Ruby and Chris Young said their son, on leave for Christmas, was to return Jan. 3 to finish training at the 14th Military Police Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He died Tuesday when a collision knocked him off an overpass on U.S. 287 in southeast Fort Worth, where he was standing after his car crashed into a guardrail.
The 18-year-old Martin High School graduate would have received orders Jan. 20 for a two-year tour of duty in Germany, Ruby Young said.
"He had always wanted to do this," she said. "He's been in ROTC since junior high at R.L. Paschal. He finished at Martin last June and went to basic training in August."
Chris Young said his son adjusted well to military life.
"He liked shooting the guns, liked the training," he said. "He thought military police was the most important thing he could do. He had signed up for a college program where he could continue his education while in the Army."
Ruby Young said she was on the phone with her son moments before he was killed Tuesday afternoon. His parents were on the way from their home in southwest Arlington to the accident site.
Chris Young said news of his son's death spread quickly among his Army friends.
"I probably had 70 phone calls out of Fort Leonard Wood from people who know him," he said.
Clinton Young was known for his sense of humor, his mom said.
"He could always make you laugh," she said.
She said her son believed that organ donation was everyone's responsibility. She was told that dozens of people would be helped because of his sense of duty.
The family was working out details Wednesday with a casualty assistance officer from Fort Hood for a full military funeral, Ruby Young said.
Clinton Young's unit at Fort Leonard Wood will have a memorial Jan. 18, his mother said.
"He loved his family very much and his family dearly loved him," she said. "But we'd like people to know that Clinton was proud to serve his country. He wanted to be a soldier."
Ruby Young said she was told that her son lost control of his car on a U.S. 287 overpass and smashed into the guardrail. An 18-wheeler then crashed just past her son's vehicle, blocking the road, she said.
Another 18-wheeler stopped in the road because the driver couldn't get around the wreckage, Ruby Young said. Then a vehicle slammed into the second truck's trailer and careered into Clinton Young, who was standing next to his vehicle.
The collision threw him over the guardrail and he fell dozens of feet onto East Loop 820, Fort Worth police reported.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620