Just five months after being deployed to Iraq, 18-year-old Eric Sieger was killed when the armored vehicle he was driving rolled from the road Thursday and into a ravine.
    From their Layton home, Wolfgang and Krista Sieger recalled the struggles and triumphs they shared with the boy they adopted when he was 11 years old. The Siegers are proud to say they have 15 children - seven of whom are adopted and five of whom have served in the military.
    Krista Sieger last spoke with her son a week ago today. The Austrian immigrant said she loved Eric's phone calls and this one in particular because they spent so much time laughing and joking with each other. His only request was photos of the family.
    ''He asked for an envelope of pictures so he could keep them and carry them around with him,'' said Krista Sieger.
    Military officials have not yet said what caused the Bradley armored tank Eric Sieger was driving to roll into the ravine. The corporal was plucked from the wreckage and died later at the hospital. The wreck is being considered an accident, Wolfgang Sieger said.
    The news of their son's death reached their home early Friday morning. As Wolfgang Sieger, a semi-retired software engineer, opened his front door to leave for work, he was greeted by military personnel. He said he knew immediately the visit was about Eric.
    "It is shocking," Wolfgang Sieger said. ''And then slowly it starts sinking in.''
    Eric Sieger was abandoned by his mother when he was 6 years old. He bounced among foster homes for about five years until the Siegers reunited him with his three younger siblings and brought them to Layton.
    ''These children have gone through unspeakable things in their lives,'' Wolfgang Sieger said. ''There were a lot of difficult times as a teenager, but he was dutiful in wanting to do what is right.''
    That duty led Eric to enlist in the armed forces. He left for Iraq in September, a month before his younger brother, James, left for basic training.
    Before Eric left, he told his friends and family he did not believe they would see him again.
    ''He said he knew that he would be coming home in a casket,'' said his mother. She admitted that she, too, had a bad feeling about him fighting in Iraq but ''hoped against hope'' for his safe return.
    ''I used to tell him that if a bullet comes at you, catch it and throw it back,'' Krista Sieger said. ''And be careful. That's all you can really do.''
    The Siegers said Eric was good with his hands and was always trying to fix things - sometimes when they weren't broken. He enjoyed running and being with his friends, many of whom had posted messages on his myspace.com page saying goodbye Sunday night.
    Though saddened by his death, Wolfgang Sieger is intensely proud of his son.
    ''Having beaten all the odds, he grew up and became a man - and a hero at that.''