PADUCAH (WPSD) — In a Christmas greeting recorded in 2009, then US Air Force Major John Darin Loftis gave his family a message of reassurance.
"Don't worry about us over here," said Loftis.
"Every time I talk to him when he was over there, he said, 'Don't worry about me. I'm okay,'" said his father John Loftis.
Loftis' father knew the dangers overseas but he and his wife weren't prepared for Saturday's knock on the door.
"We got pretty emotional. Peggy did and I did, too. We just couldn't believe it," his dad said.
Three U.S. airmen delivered the news of Darin's death and handed the family a death notification.
"On behalf of the chief of staff of the US Air Force, I regret to inform you of the untimely death of your son Lt. Col. John D Loftis," it read.
Darin quickly rose through the Air Force ranks and received a Bronze Star in 2010. He spent 17 years in the Air Force when on Saturday, he died in Afghanistan, three days after his 44th birthday.
"I talked to him Wednesday," stepmom Peggy Adams said. "It was his birthday. He called and he said, 'You can't call in but I can call you.' I said, 'The trouble they're having over there now, are you in danger?' and he said, 'No.'"
In that same phone call, Darin told his family his yearlong deployment was ending April 1, a day they were looking forward to on their calendar.
"I said, 'Honey just come home safe to us,'" Adams said. "That's all we ask, for him to come home safe."
As his parents are left with photos and memories, they are most proud of the service and oath he took to protect his country.
"He loved his children," Adams said. "He loved his mom and dad. He loved his country."
Darin Lofts' body is in Dover, Delaware. It will then be taken to Florida for his funeral later this week.
Darin leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.