Mitchell Stambaugh had knots in his stomach.
A week ago, the Spring Grove resident tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in his front yard in support of the troops, wishing them all a safe return.
On Sunday, he saw news that six military police officers were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
Every time he hears such news, it turns his stomach, because he has two sons in the Army, including one serving in Afghanistan.
"I had a bad feeling," he recalled.
On Monday, two military officers greeted him in his driveway.
"They didn't have to say a word. I knew," Stambaugh said.
The officers told him his son, Pfc. Cameron Stambaugh, 20, was one of the six NATO service members killed when an armored vehicle he was traveling in was demolished by a bomb.
Stambaugh was a 2010 Spring Grove Area High School graduate, avid hunter and fisher, and motorcycle enthusiast, his family said. He had plans on eventually joining the Secret Service or police force.
The Associated Press reported that 29 people died from roadside bombs and insurgent attacks on Sunday.
Stambaugh's unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device, according to NATO. Army press officials could not immediately confirm details.
Deployment: Cameron's family said he had just been deployed around February after being trained at Ft. Bliss, Texas.
Within weeks, he had suffered minor injuries after bomb shrapnel cut his wrist and neck, according to his grandfather, Quentin Stambaugh of Spring Grove.
And then, just recently, he had to help clear the remains of some members of his unit who died in another bomb explosion.
"I told him to be careful, be careful," his dad said he told Cameron back during the holidays, the last time the two saw each other.
"It's senseless," he added of his son's death.
"He was a right good boy, a good Christian," Cameron's grandfather added. Cameron was known to read his Bible every day.
Cameron's brother, Jeffrey, a 2011 Spring Grove graduate, also is in the Army and is in training in Texas. He's on his way home, the family said.
One of his older brothers, Chad, arrived from out of town at the Stambaugh's Orchard Road home on Tuesday afternoon, and walked straight over to Mitchell for a tearful embrace as they both soaked in the reality of the situation.
"I love you more than you know," Chad said afterward of his brother.
The tree, still adorned with the yellow ribbon, now serves as a memorial. Cameron's favorite things - from his Suzuki motorcycle to his Call of Duty XBox game - are positioned near the tree along with his photo.
At Spring Grove: Cameron is remembered as a "quiet, good student" at Spring Grove Area High School, said principal Rosemary Cugliari.
Before graduating in 2010, he had announced that he would serve in the military, so Cugliari called his name to stand and be recognized at graduation.
His friend, Carlie Musselman, wrote a message on his memorial, saying, "I can't believe you are gone. I love and miss you so much."
Cameron's immediate family includes his brothers Jeffrey, 19, Andrew, 26, and Chad, 33, and his parents Mitchell Stambaugh of Spring Grove and Pamela Smith of Hanover.
- Reach Andrew Shaw at email@example.com