Arick Tarr started talking about going into the Army soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was 10 years old at the time.

“He was just taken and very interested in the Army and what it did and why we fight for our country,” said his father, Richard Tarr, of Litchfield, N.H.

Mr. Tarr left South Portland High School during his junior year to join the Army and later earned his high school equivalency diploma.

About a year ago, he finished a yearlong tour of duty as an infantryman in Afghanistan. Back at his base in Tacoma, Wash., the 20-year-old soldier died unexpectedly July 30. Richard Tarr declined to say how he died.

Since his son’s death, Tarr said he’s spoken to his Army commander. The commander, Tarr said, described his son as a leader who took charge and often took his own path.

That attitude was evident from an early age, said his father. As a kid, he’d argue his way into later bedtimes and more cookies after dinner. In high school, he often spoke out of turn and wouldn’t bring a pencil and still ace tests.

“He was extremely intelligent,” Tarr said.

Though the family moved around and Mr. Tarr attended different high schools in and out of state, South Portland was his base.

“This is his home,” his father said.

It’s also where he met his fiancee, Stefani Greco, who also attended South Portland High School.

The couple visited relatives in Maine during his two-week leave at the beginning of July.

Richard Tarr said they spent time boating on Sebago Lake and playing with his two other sons — Tanner, 13, and Wyatt, 5.

“He was like a god to them,” Tarr said.

Mr. Tarr is also survived by his mother, Jennifer Tarr, also of Litchfield, N.H.

Even though Mr. Tarr’s fearlessness often got him in trouble as a child, he also put it to good use, said Richard Tarr.

He said his son hated to see smaller kids get picked on and stood up for the ones who couldn’t fight for themselves.

“He would really put his nose out on the line,” Tarr said. “If he thought it would compromise his popularity, it didn’t matter.”

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at

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