Dec. 31, 2006 -- The war in Iraq reached a tragic milestone as a 22-year-old soldier from Texas who valued his friends, soccer and ham-and-pineapple pizza became the 3,000th U.S. military death since the start of the war in 2003.
The Department of Defense today announced the death of the soldier, Spc. Dustin Ross Donica, of Spring, Texas.
"Dustin had a tremendous sense of duty, both to his family, and his country," said a statement by Dustin's father, David Donica, and the rest of his family. "He will be missed by his family, and all those that knew him."
Like so many others who have given their lives in this war, Donica had a life at home in America, friends and family, and a story to tell. He reflected on memories from home on a blog he maintained, and his friends weighed in, too.
Friends continue to write messages on Donica's Web site. The most recent posts, in the days shortly after Donica's death, resembled earlier posts, reaching out to a friend a world away.
"Hey bro, we're gonna miss you but never forget you," said one.
"Always in my prayers brother, see you at the gates," said another.
"Hey my friend," said another post. "Just wanted to say there is no one else in the world like you and ill never find another friend like you. You were one of my best friends and I will never forget you. All my love and prayers go to your family and I'll see you again."
Donica was born on July 11, 1984 in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Klein High School in 2002 and was attending the University of Texas in Austin when he was recruited into the Army in December 2003.
Donica was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat team, 25th Infantry Division in Fort Richardson, Alaska.
His last login to his page was the day after Christmas, just two days before his death.
He described himself as a sports fanatic. Soccer was his childhood pastime. His most missed memory? "Soccer glory days," he wrote.
He loved ham-and-pineapple pizza and Dr. Pepper. Sushi, he wrote, scared him.
He dreamed of meeting Peter Griffin, Ed Norton, Brad Pitt and Rusty Shackleford.
He treasured music. Rock and vocal trance were his favorites. He would sometimes sing along to the radio.
Donica said his friends "are the most important thing in my life." They called him "dd" and frequently posted messages of love and well-wishes on his blog while he was away.
"Hey, what's up DD!? How's Iraq working out for you so far? Just stopping in to say hi real quick -- You take care!" wrote one friend.
But those well wishes turned to notes of sorrow tonight as friends and family learned of Donica's death.
ABC News' Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.