Seven U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan this year, fighting America's longest war. The deadliest attack came this month, when a Taliban bomb killed Marine reservists Benjamin Hines, Christopher Slutman and Robert Hendriks.
When Christopher Slutman was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, he was three weeks away from going home.
"Everyone wanted him home. Everyone missed him," said Kevin McGookin, a fellow firefighter a Marine, who was one of Slutman's best friends.
This week, people lined overpasses and highways in three states to watch Slutman's casket ride back from Dover Air Force Base.
In 2014, Slutman received the distinguished Medal for Bravery for pulling an unconscious woman from a burning building in New York City. He'll be buried in Arlington on April 30, surrounded by hundreds of firefighters and family. That includes his daughters, ages 10, 8 and 4, along with his wife of 13 years, Shannon.
"I do better when i'm busy. Idle time is not good. Evenings are hard. Once I have my girls in bed and it's just me and my thoughts, it's hard. I've gotta figure out healthy ways to fill the quiet," Shannon Slutman said. "He's always with me."
She isn't the only one still leaning on his memory.
"I just say, 'Hey bud, don't let me screw this up. I gotta take care of your family,' because he would do the same for me. I just need to honor him by making sure that the girls know that their dad was the greatest man i've ever known," McGookin said.
Steven Moore, Slutman's fire captain, said he always wanted "the next challenge."
"He always wanted to better himself. He wanted to be the best. He felt he hadn't done enough by serving the city of New York for 15 years here in the fire department. He also wanted to go serve his country overseas, and he did," Moore said.
Today, Slutman's uniform and name plate remain up at the Ladder 27 fire house in the Bronx.
"He's always gonna be here. You know, after Arlington, we don't just, 'Nice seein' ya.' Like, we are what we are. You're family. You're-- we're never goin' anywhere, whether you like it or not," McGookin said. "It doesn't matter if there's gear hangin' here. It doesn't matter what it is. He's here. He left his mark. He gave this firehouse a gift. And it's here forever."
Shannon Slutman believes if everyone could experience the type of love she's had, the world would be a "better place."
"When we say that Chris was all in, he was all in in anything he did. And I have years and years and years of stories to tell our girls so that they don't forget how blessed they were to have him as a dad. And for me to have him as a husband," she said.
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