In August, Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III got married in Baltimore County. Days later, the 21-year-old Marine was off to Iraq. His honeymoon would wait.
"He didn't seem too happy; he didn't know why he was there," said Dillon Sullivan, a close childhood friend who attended Anderson's wedding. "But he figured people get through it. They get over there, then they're done and they come back and start their life."
Anderson, of Parkton, Md., was killed Wednesday by a suicide bomber in a vehicle while he was on patrol in Karabilah, the Defense Department said. His unit, the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, was out to prevent insurgents from crossing into Iraq.
Anderson played running back for the Hereford High School football team.
"He was really a dedicated player," said Ed Darney, a teammate who now plays football at the University of Richmond. "On the field, we always joked around. He always had a smile. He never seemed to be in a bad mood."
After graduating in 2002, Anderson enlisted in the Marines. He was based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and did a tour in Afghanistan.
This summer he returned home to marry a high school classmate at a church wedding in Hunt Valley, outside of Baltimore.
Not long after the reception, Anderson went to Iraq.
Underneath the joy, Anderson harbored doubt about his mission overseas, Sullivan said.
"He didn't totally understand why he was over there," Sullivan said.
Last night, Sullivan said he was grieving and angry. He said the war never seemed real -- "until yesterday."