Spc. Jessie Davila was a consummate soldier who was a strong believer in military service, a Lawrence National Guardsman who knew him said.
"He acted like a soldier and looked like a soldier at all times," Staff Sgt. Stuart Ford said.
Davila, 29, of Greensburg, was a member of the Kansas National Guard's Company A in the 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry when he was killed Monday in Iraq. The company is based in Lawrence, and Davila was one of about 100 members of the company who deployed to Iraq last year.
A statement issued by the Kansas Adjutant General's Office said Davila was killed when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. No other details were available about the incident, including whether anyone else who was with Davila was hurt, said Joy Moser, spokeswoman for the adjutant's office.
Ford is the noncommissioned officer in charge of the personnel who didn't go to Iraq and remained at the Lawrence armory, 200 Iowa. He said he was familiar with Davila from seeing him during training drills. He had not been in contact with Davila since the deployment to Iraq.
"I didn't know him outside of the Guard, but as a soldier I'd say he was exemplary," Ford said. "He was a great asset to his unit."
Tyler Trowbridge, son of Lary Trowbridge, Lawrence, also is with the Lawrence Guard unit in Iraq. Tyler called his father Tuesday but didn't mention Davila, Lary Trowbridge said.
"He said they had been under a blackout for three or four days and didn't have access to the phone or the Internet," Lary Trowbridge said. "He sounded OK. Like all of them, they don't want to be away from home, but they've got a job to do."
Davila was an infantry squad rifleman and a real asset to his unit, Ford said.
"We have kind of a second family for most of us who have been in the Guard or military service for some time," he said. "It saddens us to think of one of our own losing their life. He's somebody we will miss."
Lary Trowbridge, owner of Midwest Exterminators, 2500 W. 31st St., said he read news accounts of Davila's death Wednesday morning. It reinforced his concerns for his son, he said.
"You are always worried about it, but there isn't anything you can do," he said. "You just hope for the best and hope he gets home."