Dadeville Soldier Dies In Iraq

This week Jacob 'Spanky' Harrelson's name was added to the growing list of casualties in the war on terror.

An emotional Dennis Kinney says his step-son really was a soldier's soldier.

"He was a true soldier. He would never leave a comrade behind," said Kinney.

Harrelson's mom never wanted her son to join the military. In fact, she tried to talk him out of it.

"He had his mind made up and said he had to do what he needed to do," said Tammy Kinney.

Harrelson was driving a humvee in Baghdad when an insurgent land mine exploded. Two other soldiers were with him in the humvee but it's not clear if they survived the blast.

In the beginning Harrelson couldn't wait to join the Army after high school, but two weeks ago the reality of war was starting to sink in for the 19-year old based on emails he sent to one of his friends in Dadeville.

"He said he was scared and that it was dangerous.  He also saw a humvee blow up in front of him about a month ago," said Josh Kidwell.

Family and friends says Harrelson never did answer to the first name of Jacob, only 'Spanky,' a nickname since childhood.

"He was a little chubby as a kid and somebody said he reminded them of the character on Little Rascals, and the name just stuck. He didn't mind it at all," said Dadeville First Baptist Church Associate Pastor Brian Hammond.

And it's in the church's youth hall where 'Spanky' painted his own name on the wall, a tradition started a few years ago.

"It's an accountability issue. Your name up there means you're one of us now, a Christian," said Hammond.

Hammond says Harrelson had a 'servant's heart.' Today, the heart of his family is crushed as they make plans to bury him.

Jacob 'Spanky' Harrelson joined the military because his older brother is a U.S. Marine and nine-eleven. He had just turned 19-years old.

As of this writing, 3,618 soldiers have died fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and according to the U.S. Defense Department, 59 Alabama soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.