Saratoga Springs Lisa Barnes knew.
   
    She'd never heard fear in her son's voice before, but somehow she recognized it when he called home from Afghanistan last week.
   
    Her son, Kimble Han, was a big, strong man. A patriot. A soldier.
   
    But he was afraid.
   
    "I guess a mom just knows those sorts of things," Barnes said. "I'd never heard that from my son before, but yes, I could tell. He was so scared."
   
    Barnes told her boy to be careful. Then, as often happens during calls connecting two sides of the globe, the phone cut out.
   
    "I figured he'd call back when he was free," she said. "I didn't get to tell him that I loved him. I didn't know it would be the last time I would get to talk to him."
   
    Han, 30, who enlisted in the Army in 2008 in search of a life he could be proud of, died alongside another soldier on Friday when the vehicles in which they were riding were struck by a coordinated two-strike roadside bomb attack near Kandahar. Eleven other soldiers were wounded in the ambush.
   
    Han leaves behind a wife, Melissa, and three stepchildren. Funeral services are pending.
   
    Barnes said her son, who had begun his tour of duty in Iraq before being transferred to Afghanistan, had told her that the improvised explosive devices being employed by Taliban fighters were getting bigger and harder to detect. Just a week earlier four other soldiers with the same Colorado-based company were killed when their vehicle was attacked in the same manner.
   
    "Those were his buddies," said Han's older brother, Jerod, who graduated a year ahead of his sibling from Cheyenne High School in Las Vegas. "He told me that it was getting crazy. He said that the highway they were clearing and patrolling was the most dangerous road in the world. And when he put it like that, you could tell, he really didn't want to be there."
   
    But Jerod Han -- who moved to Utah to seek work with his younger brother in 2002 -- said his soldier sibling didn't waiver. He'd joined the Army at a time of war, knowing that his enlistment would almost certainly include a combat deployment. "He was finally proud of something he was doing in his life," Jerod Han said. "It gave him purpose and meaning in life. He was scared, but he was proud. He was a soldier."