They met as freshmen in the Army Junior ROTC at Baltimore's Forest Park High School, the quiet, strong boy who couldn't wait to join the service and the outgoing girl whose plans included college before the military.
For four years they competed against each other -- both served as cadet captains, company commanders and drill team commanders. They celebrated their successes: city drill team championships four years in a row, her promotion to executive officer in the JROTC program, his winning a coveted JROTC award.
On graduation day in June 2000, they grinned into a camera together as they locked arms and displayed their diplomas.
And they died within two weeks of each other -- Spec. Toccara R. Green, 23, in Iraq on Aug. 14, when a roadside bomb exploded near her truck, and Sgt. Damion Campbell, 23, on Friday, when his convoy was ambushed in Afghanistan.
"This is not a good day," Toccara's father, Garry R. Green Sr. of Rosedale, Md., said yesterday after learning of Campbell's death. "I was just coming around about Toccara, then I got some more bad news.
"You watch them grow up from the time they are 15 together. They are competing in competitions, and you get really close. They go into the military. You lose one, then you hear about this. I couldn't believe it."
Military officials said Campbell -- assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment, based in Vicenza, Italy -- was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during a combat patrol. His mother, Donna Robinson of Baltimore, said colleagues in her son's medic unit told her that four people had been injured when a rocket exploded and that they had tried to save Campbell by administering CPR.
"But it was too late," she said. "They gave him the last rites."
Green's transportation unit, which lost a sergeant two months ago, had stopped for a rest break when a bomb exploded near her truck and a piece of shrapnel struck her in the neck, authorities told her mother, Yvonne Green.
Green was assigned to the Army's 57th Transportation Company, 548th Corps Support Battalion, headquartered at Fort Drum, N.Y. She was the first woman from Maryland killed in the conflict in Iraq. More than 2,100 service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since military operations started, officials said.
News of the deaths of two former students in just 12 days rocked Forest Park High, where teachers and administrators remember the pair.
"They were two of the most pleasant students you ever wanted to meet," said teacher Brenda Wallace. "When they said last night that Damion Campbell from Forest Park had been killed, I just started screaming. I just broke down. . . . I don't know how many times it has ever happened that two kids from the same high school, from the same Junior ROTC program, two young people who both wanted so much to honor their country have been lost."
Retired Col. Franklin Collins, who was their JROTC adviser, said the two enjoyed a friendly competition. Of three companies, they commanded two: He headed Alpha Company, she oversaw Bravo. Of four drill teams, they commanded two.
"They were just two of the best," said Collins, who kept up with news of each after they graduated from high school. "They both were committed to serving their country, even in high school. . . . They excelled together."
Collins, who served three tours in Vietnam during 30 years in the Army, said he advised both students to go to college before entering the service. Green enrolled at Norfolk State University, but Campbell enlisted almost immediately, he said.
"That was always his goal," Collins said. "He wanted to be career military." Campbell returned to his alma mater a year after graduation and spoke to students about his positive experience in the service, he said.
Donna Robinson said that on the day before her son died, he had wired his 11-year-old brother, Nicholas Buaka, $100 to buy a new PlayStation. She said Campbell had e-mailed her early last week that his unit was embarking on a mission and that he would call her when he returned. She was notified of his death by his father, who lives in Jamaica, because the Army had confused her address.
Toccara Green left Norfolk State after one semester and transferred to Morgan State University in Baltimore. At the end of her freshman year, however, she opted to go to work full time. Office jobs proved too confining and caused her to have migraines, her mother said.
"She only had one headache while she was in basic training," Yvonne Green said. "That told me that she just hadn't liked working in the office, that it was too confining for her."
Toccara Green spent nine months in Kuwait and was on her second tour in Iraq when she was killed. Her family last saw her Aug. 3, when she returned to the Middle East after a two-week visit home.
Collins, the JROTC adviser, said the loss of both students brought tears to his eyes. "It's like something just hit you in the pit of the stomach. They were both so young. It seems like this kind of news is coming a lot faster now."
Sgt. Damion Campbell was ambushed.
Garry R. Green Sr. holds a photograph of his daughter, Army Spec. Toccara R. Green. Behind him are Toccara's brother, Marine Staff Sgt. Garry M. Green Jr., and mother, Yvonne Green. Toccara Green died in an explosion in Iraq on Aug. 14.
Donna Robinson looks at trophies earned by her son Army Sgt. Damion Campbell, who was killed Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during a combat patrol in Afghanistan.