Two soldiers with ties to North Carolina were killed in separate incidents in Iraq while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On Monday, Cpl. Anthony K. Bento, 23, of San Diego died of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by enemy small- arms fire while on dismount patrol in Bayji, Iraq, Department of Defense officials announced Wednesday.
According to relatives, Sgt. Zachary Tomczak was shot and killed Tuesday while patrolling in suburban Baghdad.
Bento, a combat infantryman, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
Tomczak was assigned to the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.
Bento "was ... a great paratrooper who we trusted on the ground, behind the driver's seat, or up in the turret behind the gun," 1st Lt. Timothy Ball, Bento's platoon leader, said in a Fort Bragg press release.
"He dedicated himself to taking care of his brothers in the platoon, and he died doing just that -- taking a knee outside the truck, making sure that his gunner's backside was covered."
Bento joined the Army in March 2005. He completed Infantry One Station Unit Training in August 2005 and the Basic Airborne Course a month later at Fort Benning, Ga.
His awards include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Bento is survived by his wife, Colleen Bento; their son, Anthony Bento; and parents Anthony and Penny Bento.
Fort Bragg officials on Wednesday declined to release biographical information for Tomczak until his death was confirmed by the Department of Defense.
According to his father, Blaise Tomczak, the younger Tomczak was on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq.
"He was just a phenomenal person," Blaise Tomczak said of his son. "As far as the military, he took that very serious.
"He didn't talk too much about things, but you could tell he was pretty serious about it."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)