A soldier with ties to North Carolina died Wednesday in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Monday.
Sgt. Charles E. Wyckoff Jr., 28, of Chula Vista, Calif., died in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
"He was a soldier's soldier," his wife, Erika Wyckoff, said in a statement released by the 82nd Airborne. "He saved the lives of his men, and in a way, saved mine as well. He was like a brother to his guys. He didn't think twice when it came time to do his job."
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Wyckoff joined the Army in June 2004. He completed Infantry One Station Unit Training and the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga. later that year.
Wyckoff said her husband was an easygoing guy who enjoyed barbecues with friends and family and making guacamole and salsa. But, she said, his heart was with the Army.
"Because he already had a degree, Charlie could have entered the Army as an officer," she said. "Instead, he chose to enlist as an Infantryman to gain the respect of all the guys he worked with. I believe that Charlie easily accomplished just that. He did this by giving his all and dedicating himself completely to his job. I am very proud of Charlie, and understand his sacrifice. He was a man that you could lean on, depend on, and trust. He was a hero."
His many decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, a Purple Heart and an Army Good Conduct Medal.
Besides his wife, Wyckoff is survived by his stepson, Joshua, and stepdaughter, Alexandra, his father, Edward C. Wyckoff, and his mother, Sylvia A. Wyckoff.