T.J. Reilly graduated from South Laurel High School in 2007 and went straight into the military as a Marine. He went to Iraq in July.
“I didn't want him to go. He wanted to go. But I didn't want to crush his dream,” says Reilly’s mother, Gina Bray.
But on Sunday, Reilly's mother says her son's unit came under a surprise attack, and he was killed instantly.
“He was on a mission. There was a hostile situation, and they just hurt my baby. And they took him,” said Bray.
In high school, his mother says Reilly was known for his big heart. She says he joined the marines to make others safe.
South Laurel High School teachers say Reilly found his niche in home economics, and he was known for baking cakes.
“And he was going to go to culinary school when he got out of the military. They used to tell him how good he made cakes,” said Bray.
The soldiers serving are often called heroes, but Bray says her son was hers, no matter what he did.
“And I just wanted him to come home, he was coming home in April, he was going to surprise me. And he didn't get to come home,” said Bray.
Visitation for Reilly is Sunday starting at 5 pm at the London Funeral Home. His funeral is Monday at noon, also at the funeral home.
Governor Beshear has ordered flags to be lowered to half staff on all government buildings beginning at sunrise on the day of Reilly's interment.