STUTTGART, Germany — A Schweinfurt-based soldier serving in Iraq died last week from noncombat injuries at a base south of Baghdad, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.

Sgt. Jose R. Escobedo Jr., who was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, died March 20.

The circumstances surrounding Escobedo’s death at Forward Operating Base Kalsu are under investigation, the military said.

The 32-year-old Albuquerque, N.M., native leaves behind a wife and three young children.

"I can’t believe he is gone," sister-in-law Ruth Patricia Flores said to KOAT TV, an ABC news affiliate in Albuquerque. "It is just really sad."

A memorial will be held at U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt, though a date has not been set.

Escobedo attended high school in Albuquerque and joined the Marine Corps after graduation, serving 11 years with the Corps, KOAT TV reported.

He briefly left the service and then joined the Army in 2007.

The family is making its own plans for a memorial service, which will be held in El Paso, Texas.

Flores said her brother-in-law will be remembered as a family man.

"He loved his kids, his wife," Flores told the network.

In a written note to the news station, Escobedo’s wife, Angelica, echoed that sentiment. "I thank you for all you did ... and being the best that you were. ... I love you and always will. You will forever be in our hearts."

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