Mike Parrott was a drill sergeant who preferred a hippy-like ponytail to the standard military buzz cut.
He loved guns but hated hunting. And although he opposed the war in Iraq, he gave his life fighting in the desert country.
"He made my life so much fun," said Meg Corwin, Parrott's wife of 19 years. "He was someone who didn't bore me. Everyone I'd ever dated before him bored me to death."
Parrott, a resident of Timnath and a CSU facilities worker, was killed by a sniper's bullet on Nov. 10 while he patrolled a highway north of Baghdad, according to the Department of Defense. He joins the more than 2,100 Americans who have died since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
A memorial for the fallen soldier is slated for 4 p.m. Friday in the West Ballroom of the Lory Student Center. The public is welcome to attend.
Corwin, also a political science instructor at CSU, knew her relationship with Parrot would be a fun ride ever since she saw Voltaire's writings resting atop his toilet when she first met him – not exactly conventional bathroom reading. The Army reservist loved learning about everything, Corwin said.
"The more obscure the better," she said. "The constant curiosity he had kept him engaged in life. He's someone who went through every day enthusiastic."
Parrott's enthusiasm led him to Iraq, where he believed he could act as a goodwill ambassador to the Iraqi people.
"He felt like he could make a difference in a small way," Corwin said. "As an American who didn't try to understand another culture through the lens of our own culture…but instead an American who embraced their culture and tried to understand it from their perspective."
Parrott was stationed at Camp Habbaniyah, west of Baghdad, with the 28th Infantry of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
"He always marched to the beat of a different drummer," said Suzanne Parrott, Mike's mom, from her home in Canton, N.C. "He helped the underdogs. He was very lovable."
Suzanne Parrott, who has been a registered nurse for 50 years, choked up when describing her son.
"It's a part of life," she said, adding that she finds comfort knowing her son died doing what he wanted to do. "But I wasn't ready for this to happen."
Parrott was in ROTC when he was a kid, and even then was a dissenting character.
"They wouldn't let him participate in many ROTC activities because he didn't cut his hair," Suzanne Parrott said, laughing.
The 15-year CSU employee would be disappointed with recent talk about American withdrawal from Iraq, Corwin said. He believed America had a moral obligation to finish what it started.
"He felt like, 'Well, we broke it. We went in there, we didn't provide enough security, we let that place turn into chaos and now we have a responsibility to the Iraqi people to provide them with some stability,'" Corwin said.
Although Bush is responsible for bungling Iraq, Corwin said, she has no resentment toward the president, since her husband chose to be in Iraq.
"I don't even have any hostility toward the Iraqi who shot my husband through the head," she said. "There's no point in holding resentment or hatred against anybody in this situation."
She added with a smile, "If I'm mad at anyone, it's him. … I kept asking him to keep himself safe, and he promised me he would"
Parrott would have celebrated his 50th birthday in December.
In addition to his ability to avoid being pigeonholed, what stuck out about Parrott was his sensitivity, Corwin said.
"He cried watching animal movies," she said. "The first movie we ever watched was 'Old Yeller' and he cried at the end of it."
Corwin said Parrott's best friend in Colorado was Glenn Abele, also a CSU employee.
But in an interview Wednesday afternoon Abele corrected Corwin, "She was his best friend."