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On the last morning of his life, Daniel J. Beard, an Army specialist, awoke to the prospect of becoming a noncommissioned officer.

Beard, 24, of Buffalo, N.Y., got the promotion, though it apparently came to him posthumously, his company commander said Wednesday.

The Defense Department announced Tuesday that Beard died Friday while deployed to Al Diwaniyah, Iraq. The news release stated that Beard, of the 3rd Platoon, 147th Postal Company, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, died in an incident not related to combat.

"They cannot release anything (more) yet because it is still under investigation," said Lt. Col. Anna Friederich, spokeswoman for the 21st TSC.

Capt. Ramon Torres, the soldier’s company commander, said Beard was always motivated.

"Beard was an excellent soldier," Torres said. "He always leaned forward."

Beard joined the Army in February 2005, and this was his first deployment downrange, Torres said.

The postal company, located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, deployed to Iraq in May 2008. Beard’s platoon is based in Wiesbaden.

As far as Torres knows, this is the company’s first fatality downrange.

Beard "was eager and motivated," Torres said. "He was scheduled to go to a promotion test that day."

Beard is survived by his wife, Yolanda, and his father, Torres said.

Plans for a service are pending. Torres said it likely would be held next week at the Daenner base chapel in Kaiserslautern.

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