While on patrol in Iraq, Army Spec. Justin Rollins found a litter of puppies near an Iraqi police station and adopted one of them.
He took a picture of himself holding the pup and sent it to his family and girlfriend, Brittney Murray, back in New Hampshire.
The very next day, on March 5, Rollins was one of six soldiers killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol near Samarra.
"It was the last bit of happiness that we know Justin had," Murray said.
Understandably, the puppy took on special meaning for his family -- a chance to keep a part of Justin with them.
"Immediately, I said, 'If I get it, it's gonna be named Hero, because my son's a hero,'" Rhonda Rollins, Justin's mother, said.
With the help of a congressman, the shipping company DHL and the military, Hero made the trip all the way to New Hampshire to the family, and a community, still reeling from a soldier's death.
"He would have really felt blessed to know he had saved something while he was over there," said Skip Rollins, Justin's father.
"I'm just excited that we got to do it for him, and honor him by getting her home," Murray said.