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BAUMHOLDER, Germany — First Lt. Thomas J. Brown, a platoon leader with 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, was killed by small-arms fire Tuesday while leading his soldiers on a foot patrol in Salman Pak, Iraq, the Department of Defense said Wednesday.

Brown, who lived in Burke, Va., was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, which deployed to Iraq in April.

A memorial service will be Thursday at Baumholder’s Chapel One at 10 a.m.

Brown, 26, was scheduled to return home for leave in just 20 days when his platoon came under attack. He had planned to return home to spend time with his 85-year-old grandmother and enjoy time traveling with his girlfriend and family.

Brown was a 2004 graduate of George Mason University, where he majored in government and international politics. "He wanted to serve his country," Timothy Brown, the lieutenant’s twin brother, told The Washington Post. "He requested to be in the infantry. He wanted to make a difference."

"All his troops said he was a lead-from-the-front kind of person," Brown told the Post.

Brown’s mother, Carol, told The Hartford Courant that their son, who grew up in Shelton, Conn., had tried an office job after college. But his childhood dream of serving in the military was something he decided to pursue instead, opting to attend Officer Candidate School.

"Ever since Tom was young, he always wanted to go into the military," she said.

Brown’s mother said her son was proud to serve as an infantryman, leading soldiers on the ground. "Infantry meant everything to him," she told the Courant.

Brown is the fifth Iron Brigade soldier to be killed in combat operations since deploying earlier this year. Brown also is the third Baumholder soldier to be killed by small-arms fire in the Salman Pak area.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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