An Army staff sergeant from Michigan has been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, his family said in a statement.
Curtis T. Howard II, 32, was on his second tour in Iraq as a member of the Army's 4th Infantry Division when the incident occurred.
The Army had not released details of Howard's death, but it said on Thursday that three 4th Infantry soldiers were killed Wednesday when their vehicle struck a bomb near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.
Friends and family members gathered Thursday afternoon at the Ann Arbor home of Howard's parents, Curtis and Linda.
John Woods, a family friend, read a statement saying the family was devastated by Howard's death.
"Right now, it's all very hard to comprehend. Our hearts and prayers go out to other members of our son's unit, the 4th Infantry Division, who also made this ultimate sacrifice. Curtis loved the military. He was a wonderful son, father and brother. This was the career he chose. We certainly respect and honor his choice," Woods said.
The minister at Howard's church, Bethel AME, recently read a letter from Howard to the congregation, said Joetta Mial, former principal at Huron High School, from where Howard graduated in 1991.
"It was about a friend of his that was just killed and he wrote, `Say a prayer for his parents,"' said Mial, a church member. "I got the funniest feeling. It was, `My gosh. I hope he hurries up and gets home,"' Mial told The Ann Arbor News.
Edward Klum, an assistant coach when Howard played on Huron's basketball team, remembered Howard taking responsibility for a loss in a big game.
"Right after the game, he came up to me and said, `Coach. I didn't play hard enough,"' Klum said. "That's just the kind of kid he was."