KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City native Javier Centonzio, 31, is a former Marine who now lives in Washington, D.C.
Six years ago, his fellow military buddy and National Guardsman, Sergeant Jessie Davila, pictured here, died while in combat in Baghdad.
Davila, 29, was killed after getting hit by a roadside bomb just three months after he and Javier were deployed to Iraq.
"He was a great friend," Centonzio said. "His death was the reason that I decided to pursue this goal of mine."
After losing his buddy so tragically, so suddenly, Centonzio promised Davila when he returned home he would go to college and get his law degree. Last spring, Centonzio kept his promise.
However, after graduating from Stetson University College of Law in Florida, the former Marine, turn grad, wanted to do more to keep the memory of his friend, the fallen soldier, alive.
"I just wanted to find a way to honor him -- not just him, but all the men and women who have given their lives for our country," Centonzio said.
So, he is now pursuing a special duty of sorts: establishing the Sergeant Jessie Davila Memorial Scholarship.
To date, Centonzio has donated his own money and collected $2,000 in community donations for the so-called "Soldier Scholarship" that would initially help military men and women graduate law school.
A mission he's certain Davila, who's buried in Fort Dodge, Kan., would be proud of.
"Every little bit helps," Centonzio said. "At this point, I think I have like 40 people that have given their money. Whatever they could to make sure that everybody knows who he was. I'd like to keep his memory alive."
Sergeant Jessie Davilia was born in Greensburg, Kan. He leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter.
For more information about how you can contribute to the fund, visit the Sergeant Jessie Davila Memorial Scholarship Facebook page.