AUSTIN — AUSTIN -- "Smart," "bright" and "positive" are just a sample of the words a childhood friend used to describe the Austin soldier killed in the line of duty Friday.

Master Sgt. Jonathan Dunbar, 36, died from his injuries in Syria on March 30 when a roadside bomb exploded.

"I didn't want to believe it at first," Steven Rogers, a childhood friend of Dunbar, told KVUE.

The two of them met in 1996 at John B. Connally High School when Rogers was a freshman and Dunbar was a sophomore.

"He was too young to go. He had a lot going for himself. He had a loving family," Rogers said.

About five years after graduating from Connally, Dunbar joined the military.

"I think when I first remember him telling me he was going to join the Army, I wasn't really surprised. I always knew that Jon was going to be somebody," Rogers said. "He was always reaching for the stars."

And it's those words Rogers has tried to live by.

"From the moment he told me to 'always reach for the stars and do your best,' I've always kept that with me. I took that with me throughout growing up," he said.

He said he's thankful he got to see Dunbar when he visited Austin in January.

"He was just happy to see everybody. He was just happy to see all of his friends that he grew up with," Rogers said.

But Rogers said he had no idea that would be the last time he would see his childhood friend.

"I actually was honored and I was happy that I got a chance to see him before his tragic loss," he said. "I just wish he was still here. I wish I could have a chance to see him again."

Another friend of Dunbar tells KVUE there's a memorial being planned for his friends and family in Austin, but a date and time have yet to be decided.

Dunbar is survived by his wife and children.