He was fiercely proud to be in the Army Rangers and always sought a challenge.

In fact, his sense of adventure was what led Kris Stonesifer, 28, to quit ROTC in 2000 because it wasn't hard enough for him. So he enlisted in the Army and joined the Rangers.

It was with the 75th Ranger Regiment, based in Fort Benning, Ga., that Stonesifer, along with another young soldier, died on Oct. 19, 2001, when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Pakistan.

"He was an adventurer," his father's fiancée, Dr. Roberta Diamond, told his hometown paper, The Intelligencer of Doylestown, Pa.

The chopper was preparing for search-and-rescue duty in neighboring Afghanistan, where Rangers have led the ground war against Taliban and terrorist targets.

Stonesifer was raised in Doylestown and attended Central Bucks West High School. He moved to Missoula, Mont., several years ago with his girlfriend and best friend, according to Diamond, and went to the University of Montana. It was there that he enrolled in the ROTC program in 1999.

But Stonesifer grew restless. He left after his junior year to enlist in the Army in 2000.

"He wanted to be the best soldier in the U.S. Army, and the best soldiers in the Army are in the Ranger battalion," said Lt. Col. Jim Clegg, who headed the university's ROTC program.

Those who knew Stonesifer remember a young man who thrived on mental and physical challenges. A ROTC buddy, J.C. Schneider, said that for fun and practice, Stonesifer would round up other cadets at night and hop from roof to roof of buildings in downtown Missoula. The goal was to try to survey the scene without being detected.

Clegg said Stonesifer was one of his best students — older and wiser than some of his counterparts.

"He was a very mature and focused young man, one of my top two cadets in a very challenging year," Clegg said. "He made better decisions than some of the younger cadets made."