When Duane E. Longstreth enlisted in the Army in January 2002, his mother, Jennifer West, joined too.
"It was just kind of a moral support thing for Duane, plus she always wanted to be in the Army herself," said Spc. Kristopher Haney, a spokesman for the family.
Now others are lending moral support to West. Her son died Thursday in Baghdad of noncombat-related injuries, the Defense Department said Monday. Longstreth, a Tacoma, Wash., native was 19.
The Pentagon said Longstreth, a private first class based at Fort Bragg, was serving in the Iraqi capital with an engineer battalion from the 82nd Airborne Division.
"He was a very proud soldier and happy to serve in Iraq, and his family feels that he left them a hero," Haney said. The Army released no other details.
Haney said he and West, 36, who is also a specialist, serve together in the 44th Signal Battalion in Mannheim, Germany. They flew back from Germany after the news of her son's death. Funeral arrangements are pending, he said.
The Pentagon also has identified two other Fort Bragg soldiers who died in Iraq in the past week, The Associated Press reported. Pvt. Kyle C. Gilbert, 20, of Brattleboro, Vt., and Staff Sgt. Brian R. Hellermann , 35, of Freeport, Minn., died when an Iraqi vehicle opened fire on their unit in Baghdad on Wednesday.