Army Spc. Avadon A. Chaves, 20, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Bliss, Texas.
According to his Facebook page, Chaves attended Pitman High School in Turlock. His family says he was a resident of Modesto as well as the youngest boy out of five siblings.
"He was a wonderful human being," said his mother Marcella Chaves.
Avadon Chaves was also recently married. His wife, Tesa, says he passed away knowing he was loved. The couple had plans to travel to Germany and eventually end up in Seattle, where Tesa Chaves says her husband wanted to be a police officer after he retired from the army.
"That's just the worst nightmare," Tesa Chaves said. "Right now it's just one day at a time and making sure everything is the way he hoped for."
It has been two days since his family got the news. Now time has been standing still for his wife, mother and sister, who have had a hard time wrapping their minds around the loss.
"We're just all kind of shocked and in kind of disbelief still," said Amaris Marquez, Chaves' sister.
The soldier's family told FOX40 what matters more than the circumstances surrounding his death is the impact he had on those around him while he was alive.
"He was a good man," Marquez said. "He was one of the good people out in the world. We were always joking and laughing, and he always was smiling."
Chaves' death is under investigation.
Governor Jerry Brown issued a statement about Chaves on Friday:
On behalf of all Californians, Governor Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor Spc. Avadon A. Chaves, who bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation. The Governor and First Lady extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.
Flags in California were ordered to be flown at half-staff over the Capitol.
"We're really proud of him and, of course, we'll always miss him," Marquez said.