Dillon Miles Jutras wanted to follow the path of his father, Army Maj. Pierre D. Jutras.

So his parents said it was no surprise when Dillon -- the kid who used to dress up in his father's uniform and joined the Junior ROTC in high school -- announced that college wasn't for him and joined the Army in December.

Pfc. Jutras, 20, of Fairfax Station died Friday during combat operations in Iraq's Anbar province. He was assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Benning, Ga.

His father said the family was not given details about their son's death.

"He chose to serve in the Army, basically following in my footsteps," Pierre Jutras, 41, said yesterday in a phone interview from the family's home. "We were very proud of him," he added, his voice breaking.

As an Army Ranger, Dillon Jutras had received several military commendations, including a parachutist badge and an Army Service Ribbon. He has been recommended for the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and an Army Commendation Medal, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

His family, close-knit through its travels from Army base to Army base over the years, recalled his kindness and quiet nature yesterday. He had two younger brothers, 10-year-old Dustin and 8-year-old Hunter, and his parents said he was especially close to his older sister, Heather, 21, an Army ROTC cadet at George Mason University.

"I have my pictures of Dillon and Heather in their father's uniform," said Julia Jutras, their mother.

Dillon Jutras was born at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center near Fort Bragg, N.C., where his father was stationed at the time. Through the years, he moved with his family as his father took assignments at Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Benning and finally Fort Belvoir, Pierre Jutras said.

His family moved to Virginia the summer before Jutras entered 11th grade. He attended Thomas A. Edison High School in Fairfax County, where he played soccer and participated in the Junior ROTC, just as he had at Hoke County High School in Raeford, N.C. He also played soccer with the Gunston Soccer Club, a local team.

He was athletic, placing 49th out of 643 runners two years ago in the Goblin Gallop 5K race in Fairfax, according to results of the race on a Web site. "He was in excellent physical condition," Pierre Jutras said, adding that his son's physical prowess enabled him to join the elite Army Rangers.

He decided to become a Ranger while at George Mason University, where he was in the Senior ROTC program. He told his family that he would rather join the Army than continue studying systems engineering. "He decided that wasn't the route he wanted to take," his father said.

Julia Jutras said she would remember how her son made her laugh and how much he respected his father. "He loved his daddy," she said. "He was always polite. I think Dillon was a quiet boy, but he always showed love toward others," she said.

He was a music fan, as well. In a statement, the family said: "He knew the names and titles to most '80s classic rock music and loved to play them while driving his loud '86 Dodge pickup."

"And he knew the words to every song. It always amazed me that he could pick up a song," his mother said in an interview. "He knew the words to 'What a Wonderful World,' and he was right. He was right."

Dillon M. Jutras's family recalled

his kindness and quiet nature.