For the second time in six weeks, news from Iraq has arrived in Hampstead, Md., and brought grief to the town of 5,060 people.
The family of Cpl. Joshua D. Snyder was still mourning the death of one of his closest friends, a fellow Marine, when word arrived of Snyder's own death.
The two had hung out together in middle school, won a state football championship together in high school and helped each other through boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. Then, this fall, they left for Iraq.
Snyder, 20, died Wednesday of wounds he suffered in a firefight with insurgents in Fallujah. His unit -- 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force -- was training Iraqi forces to prevent Fallujah from becoming an insurgent stronghold, the Defense Department said.
A longtime friend, Lance Cpl. Norman W. Anderson III, 21, of Parkton, Md., died Oct. 19, killed by a suicide bomber while on patrol in Karabilah, near the Syrian border.
"This is just another whole nightmare," said Steve Turnbaugh, who coached the two friends at Hereford High School. "People are saying this can't be happening, how can you explain it, how can you deal with it?"
Snyder and Anderson grew up together in the close-knit towns near the Pennsylvania border.
They met in middle school and bonded in high school, where Snyder was a receiver on the football team and Anderson was running back.
Both came from families whose role models were military men. Snyder's grandfather had been in the Air Force toward the end of the Korean War.
"He was the man in Joshua's life," said Snyder's mother, Doris. "I was not happy about him joining the Marines, but there was no stopping him. So, I decided to support him 100 percent. He was my son."
Snyder and Anderson joined and stuck together until the end of training, when Anderson was held back by a week because of pneumonia.
The delay meant they would serve in different battalions.
Snyder was sent to Afghanistan in 2004, and in September, he left for a tour in Iraq.
One day recently, just as his unit was headed out for patrol, he received an e-mail telling him that Anderson had been killed.
Anderson's mother, Robyn, said Snyder called her to mourn with her. "He was devastated," she said. "I asked him, 'Please, just be careful. Just make sure you come home to your family.' "
One Marine from their high school class of 2002, Pfc. Grant Hemmerly, remains in Iraq.
"We just sent a whole bunch of shoe boxes full of stuff to his unit and the guys in Norm and Josh's units, too," said Robyn Anderson. "We want them to know we're still thinking of them."