A Fort Bragg soldier died after being hit by small arms fire Tuesday, Army officials said.
Capt. Erick M. Foster, 29, of Wexford, Pa., was a troop commander with 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. He died after an attack in the city of Muqdadiyah, according to the Pentagon.
That's northeast of Baghdad in Diyala, a province that has emerged as one of the most dangerous since the U.S. troop buildup began in Baghdad last winter.
Members of the Foster family said through the Army that they didn't want to talk to the press. A friend, Capt. John Hartsock, issued a statement through the 82nd Airborne.
"Foster was a respected and proven combat leader whose love for his men supplied him daily with motivation," Hartsock said. "Captain Foster was respected by all who knew him, a proven combat leader, a loving son, and a good man."
Foster graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2000 and joined the Army that May. He took command of A Troop in October 2006.
He had one previous combat deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2005.
Foster's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster. He was a graduate of the Army's grueling Ranger school.
Foster is survived by his parents, Robert and Barbra Foster, and his sister Abby Foster, all of Wexford, Pa.; and his sister, Elizabeth Werkheiser, of South Kirkwood, Mo.