Jessica McDonald says she spoke frequently with her brother Sean while he was deployed in Iraq.
During the last conversation a couple of weeks ago, she says they talked about how Sean would be leaving Iraq soon for his military base in Germany.
McDonald was assigned to the Army's 9th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Wiesbaden, Germany.
“He was very proud to be American, and he wanted to serve in the best military in the world.”Jessica McDonald, referring to her brother Sean
McDonald was sent to Iraq in September and was scheduled to rotate out this summer, with his enlistment ending next spring, Jessica McDonald says. She adds that her brother was already speculating about another Iraq war deployment, before his life ended in Baghdad.
"He was the driver of a truck, and the left tire rolled over an IED," said Jessica McDonald. "It was a very powerful IED and it exploded. And he went into an instant coma from the blast because it was so powerful, and then he died about an hour later."
Recent telephone calls and e-mails from McDonald indicated that the situation in Iraq was getting "pretty bad," she says.
"He was driving the same route every single day, so it had become very challenging for him," she said. "His unit had lost three other guys on Christmas Day, which was his birthday."
It's been a long time since Sean McDonald lived in Minnesota. Jessica, who lives in Rosemount, says following his parents' divorce 10 years ago, Sean moved to the Netherlands with his mother.
Since Sean McDonald was a citizen of both countries, Jessica says he had a choice of which country's military to join. She says choosing the U.S. Army was not a difficult choice for Sean.
"He was very proud to serve his country. He had an option to either join the Dutch military or the American military," Jessica McDonald says. "He was very proud to be American, and he wanted to serve in the best military in the world."
Jessica says Sean McDonald had planned on moving back to Minnesota following his enlistment.
When asked what she would want people to think about in the wake of her brother's death, Jessica McDonald said she wants them to be proud of everyone who is serving in Iraq.
"They really should be supporting the war and supporting all of our troops," says McDonald. "You can hate the president, you can hate everything, but at the end of the day, it's the Iraqis who are killing these soldiers. All we're trying to do is be there to help create a democracy, and we really need to support them and do everything we can for them while they're there."
Sean McDonald's military unit is planning memorial ceremony in his honor a week from today in Germany.
He is the 55th person with strong Minnesota ties to die in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)