A Fort Bragg soldier was killed in Afghanistan just two days after his younger brother had come home from a tour in Iraq with the Marine Corps.
Staff Sgt. Robert F. White, 34, of Cross Lane, W.Va., was killed Monday in an ambush west of Kandahar in the southern part of the country, according to Pentagon and Fort Bragg officials.
White, a squad leader with the 82nd Airborne Division, was part of a quick reaction force sent out to investigate a report of improvised roadside bombs when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the Humvee he was riding in.
Another soldier, whose name was not released, was wounded in the attack.
White was an unusually experienced infantryman, who had graduated from the elite Ranger school and also from Air Assault school. He had served in Kosovo, Korea and Nicaragua, said his mother, Shirley White, also of Cross Lane.
"With all of Bob's qualifications, we never really worried about him like we did about his younger brother, who's only 20 years old," she said.
That brother, Andrew, returned from Iraq on Saturday. The joy of his homecoming lasted little longer than the weekend.
"We've got ... pretty mixed emotions right now," Shirley White said.
As a boy, Robert White was a competitive swimmer. He played a drum in his junior high school's band and was a wrestler there and in high school, his mother said.
White always had a positive attitude and smile on his face, no matter how tough the situation, his battalion commander, Lt. Col. David P. Anders, said in a news release. His mother echoed that, saying her son smiled all the time.
"He was very soft-spoken, but when he was around, you always felt better," she said. "He was like a big kid."
That is probably why children liked him so much, she said. White was a Boy Scout leader with his son's troop in Hope Mills, the Cumberland County community where he lived with his wife, Cathy, and son, Zachary, 15.
"Zachary was working toward become an Eagle Scout, and Bob was planning to help him when he got back," Shirley White said. "I guess that will have to wait awhile."
White's survivors also include his father, Stan White, of Cross Lane; two sisters, Phyllis Sellard, 40, and Christina White, 17; and an older brother, William White, 38.
(News researcher Becky Ogburn contributed to this story.)
Staff writer Jay Price can be reached at 829-4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org.