Back in California, Rudy Acosta was well-liked by everyone at his high school, his friends said.
He performed in school plays and wasn’t shy about showing his school spirit for Santa Clarita Christian School. Some remember that, as a sophomore, he went so far as to shave all his hair during spirit week and leave only “SCCS” in red-dyed letters on the back of his head.
“You can’t help but smile when you think of Rudy,” said classmate Taylor Tronson, 20.
The 19-year-old Acosta died March 19 in Kandahar province. The military said he was fatally wounded when a person from a military security group allegedly opened fire.
Acosta had been based in Vilseck, Germany.
His father, Dante Acosta, told the Santa Clarita Valley Signal that he was proud of his son but “heartbroken.”
He told the newspaper that his son inspired others.
“He was a wonderful young man who came back a man,” he said.
Acosta graduated from high school in 2009, completed Army basic training that summer and was deployed to Afghanistan on June 10. He served as a health care specialist and planned to enroll in medical school after he completed his service, his father said.