While his peers from St Augustine's Catholic school were this month contemplating university careers or first jobs, Jason Chelsea was preoccupied with a different future: his first tour of duty in Iraq.
The 19-year-old infantryman, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, was tormented by concern about what awaited him when the King's Lancaster Regiment reached Iraq, where 115 British soldiers have been killed since 2003.
He had even told his parents that he had been warned by his commanders that he could be ordered to fire on child suicide bombers.
It was a fear that he never confronted. Within 48 hours of confessing his concerns to his family, Pte Chelsea was dead after taking an overdose of painkillers and slashing his wrists.
On his death bed, he told his mother, Kerry: "I can't go out there and shoot at young children. I just can't go to Iraq. I don't care what side they are on. I can't do it."
Today, mourners including comrades from his unit will attend Pte Chelsea's funeral, wearing the colours of his two favourite football teams, Chelsea and Wigan. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to begin an investigation into his death, including allegations that the teenager was bullied. In a suicide note, the young soldier had said that he was "just a waste".
His parents said yesterday that their son's ordeal had convinced them of the need for an urgent review of the pre-deployment training given to British soldiers bound for Iraq.
"In training, they were made to wrestle with dummies. Jason said they were also told they might have to fight kids and that they might have to shoot them because they were carrying suicide bombs. He said the policy [where there was a suspected suicide bomber] was to shoot first and ask questions later."
His mother added: "Jason said that during the training for Iraq he had been told that children as young as two carry bombs and the time may come when he would have to shoot one to save himself and his friends. I think they need to think again about the training they give to young soldiers before Iraq."
Too many people think of military heroes as those who return from war with medals and ribbons on their chests. Far too few give much thought at all to those like this poor, embattled British soldier, Jason Chelsea, who suffer so greatly from the horrendous thought of having to kill children that they either desert, resist or end up killing themselves.
Some people think there's no honour to be found in suicide. I'd challenge them to not find the honour in this young man's actions. He did the only thing that he could fathom at the time to ensure he would not end up killing children - an overwhelmingly sad reality.
May he rest in peace.