ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) - After her son was killed in Iraq, Nanette West thought the only way to understand it was to put herself in his shoes.
"I wanted to see where he was," West told KXAN in an interview. "I wanted to see what he was doing, how he was living, what they were doing over there, how he died."
West, who lives in Round Rock, even went so far as to try to enlist in the Army but was told she was too old. The next best option came when she landed a job with a defense contract. And 15 months after 1st Lt. Kile West was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle, she was on her way to Iraq.
"My first goal was just to get there," West said. "So I got there against everybody's odds telling me, 'You don't need to be doing this. Your son wouldn't want you there. Bull."
West said fate put her right where she needed to be - in a nearby camp close to her son's unit. For two and a half years she helped support the troops with basic necessities like food and lodging. She even hand-delivered care packages to the GIs.
The unexpected highlight of the trip was a ride in a Bradley like the one her son was killed in. She also got to visit the memorial soldiers built for her son and spent a few days with Kile's unit where she learned more about who her son was in his final days.
Back at home, West recalled her son as a curious young man and a dedicated soldier.
"He soaked up everything he could from everybody to make himself a better officer, a better leader to do a better job himself," she said. "Three or four different guys told me that same story."
But what West never imagined was the journey to understand her son's death would teach her more about life.
"You've got to find your own passion," said West. "It's about giving more than taking and those are the things he had figured out."
West hopes she can help other military families who have lost loved ones in combat by sharing her experience to help them work through their grief.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police are looking for a missing woman.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.
A representative at the Fayette County Sheriff's office said that Fayette County is effectively shut down due to icy conditions.