By Marlee Ginter

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The war on terror launched within hours of 9/11, with the first strike a month later in Afghanistan.

The United States’ invasion of Afghanistan aimed to dismantle Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that had executed the September 11, 2001, attacks.

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Several years later, a set of brothers in Northern California would sign up to fight for their country—but only one would make it back alive.

Their mother is now bound to suffer the impact of 9/11 for the rest of her life.

“It’s impacted the rest of my life until I take my last breath,” said Deborah Getz. “My heart is forever broken.”

Getz remembers being glued to the news, gripped by every detail as 9/11 changed her life.

“9/11, I remember I was watching Good Day Sacramento and I seen (sic) live the second plane hit,” Getz said. “And I thought, ‘What’s happening?’ “

Watching alongside her were her two young boys Kristofer and Nic—both determined to join the military and support their country.

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“Both of my boys wanted to do something, they just weren’t old enough yet,” Getz said. “So at 12 years old, you just think ‘Oh yeah, it’s just a kid talking.’ He was in eigth grade.”

She said they just wanted to help their country.

And that’s exactly what both boys did. Kristofer became the youngest Army ranger and was deployed to Afghanistan. Nic was deployed to Iraq. Both fought the war on terrorism.

Kristofer never made it home.

“It breaks my heart because as a mom, I was supposed to be there to pick him up and I wasn’t in Afghanistan to get him,” Getz said. “It’s hard. It’s very hard for me. I just want him back and I can’t.”

Every year since, Getz has set up a toy drive to help military families, knowing what they’ve lost to give to their country.

“There’s a hole in of all the Gold Star families’ hearts, and you can never fill it. There are no words you can say to us,” Getz said. “But we know what our child was doing. Whether it was our son or our daughters, they were doing it for our freedoms.”

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Kristofer was one of eight soldiers who died in Afghanistan when a military helicopter crashed in 2007. His brother Nic fought active duty in Iraq and was honorably discharged one year after Kristofer’s death.