VICENZA, Italy — Two Sky soldiers killed last week as a result of a battle near the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan have been identified.

Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza, 29, of Glendale, Ariz., died Thursday and Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan, 22, of Ontario, Ohio, died Friday, according to a Pentagon news release.

Mendoza, a medic, died while keeping enemy forces from taking Brennan’s body, according to reports quoting Brennan’s parents. Both soldiers were assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

The two soldiers will be remembered along with Staff Sgt. Larry Rougle, who was killed earlier in the week while serving on his sixth deployment, in a memorial ceremony at 10:45 a.m. Friday at the base chapel.

Sixteen soldiers based at Caserma Ederle have died of wounds suffered in Afghanistan less than halfway through an expected 15-month deployment.

Mendoza was born in California and grew up in New Mexico before moving to Phoenix near the end of high school, according to a report by The Arizona Republic. Family members said he was an active member of his church and wanted to eventually become a firefighter.

His brother, Carlos, told the paper that his family had heard from his younger brother only a week before his death.

“He sounded in good spirits and was in a good mood ...,” the paper quoted him saying.

Brennan grew up in Ontario, spending parts of summers and holidays with his father in Wisconsin.

His mother, Janice Gates, was quoted by The Oregonian as saying she couldn’t financially support her son as well as she would have liked while he was growing up. So he worked part time in a print shop and still managed to get good grades.

“He was just such a responsible young man,” she said. “I know he would have done absolutely amazing things in his life.”

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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