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A Germany-based soldier killed by small-arms fire in Iraq on Dec. 29 has been identified by the Defense Department as David E. Dietrich, a member of the 1st Armored Division.

Dietrich, a 21-year-old native of Marysville, Pa., died in Ramadi after his unit came in contact with enemy forces during a combat patrol, according to the Defense Department. He was posthomously promoted to private first class, the Army said.

Newspaper reports from near his hometown depict Dietrich as unflinchingly kind and principled in the face of numerous setbacks throughout his childhood and into young adulthood.

“David has an internal compass that always pointed in the right direction,” R. Craig Raisner, one of Dietrich’s Boy Scout leaders, told The Associated Press.

Dietrich was abandoned by his parents at the age of 10 and lived with his grandparents until the age of 14, according to the AP. After that, he was bounced around foster homes and occasionally lived with classmates and friends, including Raisner.

“We can all name stories about kids like David whose lives went very wrong,” Raisner told The Patriot-News, a newspaper in Harrisburg, Pa. “There was something in him that knew to be a good, moral person. Something in him chose a different path.”

After graduating high school in 2004, Dietrich lived for a time in his white Chevy Blazer, according to the newspaper.

“He was the kindest person I’ve ever known,” Annette McCord, 21, of Marysville, told The Patriot-News.

Jamie Wolf, who considered Dietrich her best friend, said he promised to be her maid of honor if she married, according to The Patriot-News. He said he’d even wear a pink tuxedo, Wolf said.

“When you have a man like that in your life as a friend, that’s willing to do that, you know he’s a great man,” Wolf said. “But unfortunately, he got out of it.”

Dietrich was assigned to F Troop, 1st Cavalry Regiment (Brigade Reconnaissance Troop), 1st Brigade Combat Team, which is based in Friedberg, Germany.

A memorial service is set for 9:30 a.m. Jan 24 at Ray Barracks chapel in Friedberg.


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