Michael M. Carey told his high school guidance counselor in Prince George County, Va., that all he wanted to be was a U.S. Marine. He was living his dream when he died Tuesday in Iraq. He was 20.
The Department of Defense said Carey died after he fell into a canal and did not resurface. His body was recovered that day.
The Pentagon also announced yesterday the death in Baghdad of another soldier from the Washington region: Army Pfc. Leslie D. Jackson of Richmond.
At 18, Jackson is believed to be the youngest soldier from this region to die in Iraq. A truck driver for the 1st Cavalry Division, she was killed Thursday when her vehicle hit a roadside bomb, the Pentagon said.
Jackson's high school principal said she told him in an e-mail that she had left home as "mommy's little girl, and now had grown up to be a full-fledged soldier."
Jackson described how she learned to accept the responsibility of looking out for her own life and the lives of her fellow soldiers, said Earl M. Pappy, principal of George Wythe High School of the Arts.
Jackson, who graduated last year, was "a born leader" and an outstanding person, someone "for all the students" to emulate, Pappy said. She had been brigade commander in the JROTC program.
She joined the Army in August and was sent to Fort Hood in December. The 1st Cavalry arrived in the middle east in March, proceeding first to Kuwait, then to Iraq.
Carey, also a private first class, was a combat engineer assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., according to the Marine Corps.
Carey joined the Marines in 2001 and earned a Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Marine Corps said.
His parents, who live in Amelia, Va., could not be reached for comment.
Carey was married and is survived by a daughter, Mia Carey, according to the local newspaper, the Hopewell News.
"He was a personable, likable kid," said Kathy Hodson, a guidance counselor at Hopewell High School.
In a telephone interview, Hodson said that Carey spent part of his freshman and sophomore years at the school before leaving.
She said she remembered Carey as a slight, blond boy with glasses, someone who made friends easily and who could strike up a conversation as readily with adults as with children.
"He told me he was going to get his GED and get into the Marines," Hodson said, "which apparently he wound up doing."
News researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.