August 15, 2004 6:00 AM

Teen follows his father into military, then into death

Nearly six years ago, Tony Roberts stood over his fathers casket in a Maryland funeral home, a boy of 13 staring silently at the man he had adored. It was November 1998, shortly before Tony would say he wanted to join the military, like his dad. Those wrenching days seemed to set a trajectory for Tony, said relatives, friends and teachers near his home in Bear, a small town 50 miles south of Philadelphia. Somewhere among the teenagers rap music battles with friends, clothes-shopping in Philadelphia and affinity for war movies, Anthony Paul Roberts had stepped into his fathers shoes.

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