Updated: Thursday, 20 Jan 2011, 2:05 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 19 Jan 2011, 5:07 PM CST
MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) - A local family is mourning the loss of a loved one killed in Afghanistan. Cpl. Joe Whitehead died Sunday while conducting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Melanie Miller said her son is a hero.
"I am very proud. I want everyone one to know, the world to know, he was only 22-years-old," said Miller.
The young Marine's family said he had only been in the battle torn country for five weeks when he was killed.
Whitehead's family said he had a big personality and an even bigger heart. They said he died doing what he loved and knew the sacrifice it would take.
"He wanted to serve his country and he went to Afghanistan even though he knew the consequences. He wanted to become a man and he did," said Miller.
Photos of a bright eyed high school graduate adorn the family coffee table. Whitehead's mother, sister, brother and aunt shared stories about him. Stories such as the time he took his niece mud riding or the time he paid his mother's electric bill.
"Somebody I always look up to, got advice from. He was the only brother I had. He was my hero and my idol. I miss him," said Destin Goodhue.
Before deploying to Afghanistan, Cpl. Whitehead served his country in Kuwait and Haiti.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.