A Dickinson soldier was killed in Iraq on Wednesday, just hours after talking with his parents.

Army Pfc. Nathaniel Allen Given, 21, died Wednesday while on routine patrol in a rural area near Baghdad, said his father, Scott Given.

"They went out on foot patrol, going after bad guys," Given said Saturday at his Dickinson home. "He got hit with an IED (improvised explosive device) and gunfire."

Given said he and his wife, Donna, learned of their son's death about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Scott Given said he was on his way to his mother-in-law's home in Bacliff when his wife called him and told him to come home right away.

As he drove back, he said he was hoping there wouldn't be an Army car in his driveway. There wasn't, but a car he didn't recognize was parked on the street.

"I walked in and saw two Army guys," Given said. "I lost it. I had just talked to him."

About 10 hours earlier, just after midnight, Given and his wife had received a phone call from their son. With the nine-hour time difference, it was about 9:30 a.m. in Iraq.

"He hardly ever got a chance to call," Scott Given said of his son. "He was calling from a rooftop by satellite. We talked, and he sounded in better spirits than ever. I was so happy he called."

According to Army officials, Nathaniel Given died less than two hours after he placed the call, his father said.

A lifelong resident of the Dickinson-Texas City area, Given had attended Dickinson High School.

The young soldier, who joined the Army's 10th Mountain Infantry in mid-2005, went to Iraq in August, his father said. A month later, he celebrated his 21st birthday in Iraq.

"He was supposed to be home these two weeks, but he got bumped," said his father.

Given said his son, who wanted to become a police officer, loved vehicles of all kinds, "anything with big tires on it."

He also loved children and often asked his parents to send candy that he could give to Iraqi youngsters, Scott Given said.

"He loved his country, and he thought he was helping Iraq," Given said.

He said his son had told his family that the Iraqi people wanted the soldiers there.

"It's the insurgents that keep causing the fighting," Given said his son had told him.

Given said he didn't know yet when his son's funeral would be. He said his son's body is expected to arrive next week at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and will then be flown home.

In addition to his parents, Nathaniel Given is survived by a brother, Emery, and a sister, Amanda.

Nathaniel Given is the second Houston-area soldier to die in Iraq during the Christmas holiday. Stephen Lloyd Morris, 21, of Lake Jackson, died Dec. 24 in Al Anbar province.