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In Tribute |

U.S. troops who have died in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Iraq.

EDITOR'S NOTE: These tributes, published in alphabetical order, were supplied by The Associated Press.

Army Pvt.

Jordan Thibeault

As a boy, Jordan Thibeault loved to ride bikes, build with Legos and act out impromptu plays. He was quiet, hardworking and always helpful.

Christian Carnley described his friend as always saying, “Let's go do something,” when they were children.

Thibeault, 22, of South Jordan, Utah, died Sept. 5 at Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq of injuries from a noncombat incident. He was on his second combat tour in Iraq and was assigned to Baumholder, Germany.

Army Pfc.

Bryan Thomas

Friends and family friends described Bryan Thomas as an “old soul” – a thoughtful and introspective young man who took an interest in animals, sports, photography and Mountain Dew.

“It just doesn't seem real,” said Laura Stewart, a family friend. “I think any minute now he'll come in, open up the refrigerator, and take a seat on the couch.”

Thomas, 22, of Battle Creek, Mich., was killed Sept. 4 when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Cpl.

Michael Thompson

Friends of Michael Thompson recalled a time they were on guard duty very early one morning when they began talking about home, hunting and music.

“He began singing Waylon Jennings at the top of his voice,” said Staff Sgt. Tracey Friend. “Lights started coming on in the neighborhood below, and the Iraqis were coming out and saying, ‘Mister, please!'”

“He looked at me and said, ‘Sgt. Friend, I don't think they know Waylon Jennings,' and for the next four hours, they were entertained. He didn't shut up.”

Thompson, 23, of Harrah, Okla., was killed Sept. 18 when his helicopter went down near Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to Lexington, Okla.

Army Capt.

Robert Vallejo II

Robert Vallejo II was very disciplined. He would go jogging at 5 every morning, no matter the weather. But he melted when it came to family, visiting whenever he could.

“He was a happy person. I never saw him in a bad mood,” said his aunt Sara Ramirez.

Vallejo, 28, of Richland Hills, Texas, was killed Sept. 18 when his helicopter went down near Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to Grand Prairie, Texas.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary Vasquez

People would tell Gary Vasquez that they were sorry each time he was sent back into a war zone.

“He would say, ‘What do you mean? I can't wait,'” said his brother, Barry DuHasek.

Vasquez, 33, of Round Lake, Ill., was killed Sept. 29 in an explosion in Yakhchal, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Fort Bragg and was on his third tour in Afghanistan.

Army Staff Sgt.

Jason Vazquez

Jason Vazquez's girlfriend said he was very involved with his family and was focused on his career.

“I watched him achieve everything he wanted in these past three years,” said Genevieve Gonzalez. “He made my life so much happier. He was more than just a partner; he was my best friend.”

Vazquez, 24, of Chicago, was killed Sept. 17 when his vehicle struck an explosive in Gerdia Seria, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Sycamore, Ill.

Army Lt. Col.

James Wiley

About a year ago, James Wiley decided to don fatigues again and become a soldier for one final tour in Iraq.

“While he was there, he really became a humanitarian,” said his mother, Ruth Wiley. “He collected clothing for the children. He told me, ‘Mom, we can fight as many wars as we want, but when we get the children believing in us, that's when we will get the wars to stop.'”

Wiley, 46, of North Bend, Ore., died Sept. 18 at Bagram Airfield of injuries from a noncombat-related incident. He was assigned to Syracuse, N.Y.

Army Pvt.

Vincent Winston Jr.

Vincent Winston Jr. always knew he wanted to follow in his father's military footsteps.

“He was different from most kids; he was more serious, he stayed determined,” said his father, Vincent Cortez Winston Sr.

Winston Jr., 22, of St. Louis, died Sept. 4 after his vehicle struck an explosive. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Army Capt.

Darrick Wright

Darrick Wright was known not only for his engineering and leadership skills, but also for his kindness, faith and 100-watt smile.

“He lit up a room,” said Lt. Jeremy Tallent. “He was a big old teddy bear with a big old smile.”

Wright, 37, of Nashville, Tenn., died Sept. 17 in Baghdad of a noncombat cardiac arrest. He was assigned to Montgomery, Ala.

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