When Travis Morgado graduated college with a civil engineering degree, he wasn't quite ready for a 9-to-5 office job.
"He just felt so fortunate, he felt, why was he so lucky?" his mother, Andrea Velasquez Kessler, said Friday in a phone interview from Washington state. "We told him to join the Peace Corps. But he wanted to enlist."
And despite his mother's wishes, he did.
On Wednesday, Army 2nd Lt. Travis A. Morgado, who spent his early childhood in San Jose, was killed in the Zharay district of Afghanistan.
His father, Joe Morgado of San Jose, and brother, Eric Morgado, both of San Jose, flew to Dover Air Force base to retrieve the body, and are expected home later Friday.
The Department of Defense said in a statement that the 25-year-old Morgado died when insurgents attacked his patrol with an improvised explosive device.
His mother told NBC Bay Area that she was told that a member of his patrol stepped on a "pressure plate," that caused an explosion. She would like to know more about what happened, and said she's contacting a senator to investigate further -- such as why her son, the platoon leader, was the only one killed.
What's also causing her pain is that her son, a graduate of the University of Washington, deployed only two months ago. He was attached to a battalion with the 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
He was sent to Afghanistan on March 20, a week before his 25th birthday.
Though he told her that his operation could be dangerous, "he wanted to do it," Kessler said.
Morgado was born in the Bay Area, and when his parents divorced when he was five, he lived mostly in Edmonds, Wash. with his mother, brothers, Eric, 24, and Carlos, 22. He has a step sister in Washington, and a two other siblings. He would spend summer with his dad.
"He was just awesome," said his mom. "He was just so nice. He just always felt that he wanted to give back."
Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-432-4758 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follwer her at Twitter.com/ljfernandez.