Music was part of Aaron Jagger's life for almost as long as his father can recall.
"I remember the first time his mother bought him a $7 guitar. He basically never put it down," Dale Jagger recalled.
And music followed him into adulthood.
"A wonderful father, a good husband, and a fantastic musician," said Anson Jagger, Aaron's brother.
A father five times over now, not to mention his two stepdaughters.
Still, the music followed. It followed into his life as U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Aaron Jagger, a 24-year military man.
"If he went to a new base and a new assignment, it wasn't long before he found a couple of guys he would play with," Anson Jagger said.
And there were plenty of new assignments for Sgt. Jagger: A tour in Desert Storm, two in Bosnia, then another two stints during the current war in Iraq.
On his most recent trip, Jagger used his music to help soldiers grieve the loss of comrades.
Until the 43-year-old soldier lost his life.
"Disbelief. Numb. Not real," Dale Jagger recalled feeling. "It was like a bolt of lightning."
The family got the call early last Wednesday morning.
"It's hard to believe that death would ever come to him," his father said. "He was so alive."
Now, music is the way some in the family remember him.
Fellow soldiers have sent their memories in letters, telling the family what a great leader he was, what a great listener he was.
Now, as the family gathers to mourn, they remember those kind words and, of course, their own memories. Still, it's hard not to think about the memories that could have been.
"It seems like he died way too young. I think he had a million things to do," Dale Jagger said.
A visitation for Aaron Jagger is scheduled for 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Friday at the Kurtz Funeral Home in Hillsdale. His memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hillsdale United Brethen Church.