Jerome Gourley was at St. Mark's Hospital getting a checkup Wednesday afternoon when his wife, Judy, called and told him two military chaplains were at their Midvale home.
    "I knew then . . ." he said Thursday from his living room. "The chaplain on your porch is not good news."
    The chaplains were there to tell the Gourleys their 38-year-old son, Staff Sgt. Gregson Gourley, was one of four U.S. soldiers killed Wednesday when the Humvee they were patrolling in hit a road-side bomb near Hawijah, Iraq, about 150 miles north of Baghdad. He was the 25th soldier with Utah ties killed since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.
    Gregson Gourley grew up in Sandy and Midvale and attended Alta and Hillcrest high schools. He was a bit of a loner as a teenager, his father said, but he matured after serving a mission in Pennsylvania for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a soldier, Gregson Gourley was a meritorious service winner, a squad leader and weapons specialist with the 101st Airborne Division, based in Kentucky.
    "He was a very gentle person," his grandmother Adena Gourley said. "He had a great desire to be an outstanding soldier and an outstanding man. He wanted to be a father his children could be proud of."
    Gregson Gourley was four weeks into his second tour of duty when he died. The shock of his death has "been kind of abstract," Jerome Gourley said. "The war is over there. It's really tough to realize that he's had to die for that mission."
    But, Jerome Gourley, who himself retired as a lieutenant colonel after serving 35 years in the Army, said his son loved being a soldier and helping the citizens of Iraq.
    "He believed in what we were doing and was proud of what was happening there," Jerome Gourley said. Wednesday night, friends planted more than a dozen American flags in the snow on the Gourleys' front yard. Neighbors stopped by Thursday as Jerome Gourley took calls from friends.
    Judy spent the day flying to Hopkinsville, Ky., to be with his son's wife, Collette, and their four children, including 3-month-old Alexa.
    "He just adored her," Jerome Gourley said. "He was just so pleased with her. Of course, he got to know her for about 60 days after she was born." Jerome Gourley said he spoke to Collette Thursday and she was doing as well as could be expected.
    "She's really a rock," he said. "These families of our soldiers worry and wait and watch and wonder and they serve, as well."
    Gregson's older brother, Eric, who is an Army surgeon, will meet his brother's body at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and return with it to Utah in the next several days. Gregson will be buried in Murray Cemetery. Jerome Gourley said he last spoke to his son on the phone about two weeks ago. He told him to be careful and keep his buddies safe.
    "He said, 'Don't worry dad, we'll be all right.' "