At 33, Edwin Roodhouse shocked family and friends by joining the Army.
A computer network engineer, he had bounced from one Silicon Valley job to the next, following the cycles of boom and bust without ever settling down.
But after 10 years, he was ready for a new career. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks focused him on doing something for his country and, at his age, the Army was the only service that would accept him.
Roodhouse signed up in 2002. He died in Iraq on Dec. 5, when a homemade bomb blew up the Humvee carrying him and four others. A sergeant from Indiana was also killed and three soldiers were injured.
"He was very happy in the Army," said his stepmother, Donna Roodhouse of McMinnville, Ore. "He saw it as a real turning point in his life."
He had lived in a number of places in the Silicon Valley area, including Cupertino and Los Gatos. In 2002, he moved to Oregon.
Unmarried, Roodhouse had never found lasting satisfaction in the workaday world, his stepmother said. He had studied creative writing at San Francisco State but didn't pursue it professionally. Before enlisting, he had applied to film school but then decided it wasn't for him.
Roodhouse was known among his infantry pals as a kind of big brother, his stepmother said. He had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division at Camp Greaves, Korea.
Joining the Army had deepened Roodhouse's Catholic faith, and he was generous with spiritual advice. He also entertained the troops on a guitar he had taught himself to play.
In the service, he continued to write. Every month or so, he sent his family installments of a serial narrative he called "The Great Adventure." The story spanned his 18 months in Korea and three months in Iraq.
In early December, his stepmother and her husband, Alan Roodhouse, drove to San Diego for a farewell to Edwin's brother, Alex, a sailor who was shipping out to the Middle East. The couple received word of Edwin's death when they returned home.
In addition to his father and stepmother, Roodhouse is survived by three brothers and a sister. His mother, Joy Desai, and stepfather, Dinesh Desai, live in Los Altos Hills.