Updated: Jan. 13, 2009
Fort Bragg, N.C. — An 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper died when an improvised-explosive device detonated near his patrol in Baghdad Saturday.
Staff Sgt. Justin Bauer, 24, was serving with the 2nd Battalion. 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
His fellow soldiers and family members mourned the loss of a person they said was a remarkable man.
"He was a model husband, loving and compassionate, and a son who never gave his family any problems when he was growing up," his wife, Kari Bauer, said in a statement.
"Bauer was an exception leader, twice tested in combat deployments with the battalion over the past two years," Lt. Col. Louis Zeisman, commander of the 2nd Battalion, said.
Bauer joined the Army in October 2004 and completed training at Fort Benning, Ga. He was assigned to the 82nd as an assistant gunner in August 2005.
His wife said that becoming a paratrooper had long been a goal of Bauer.
"I knew from when I first met Justin that he had a desire to serve his country and be a paratrooper. We supported and prayed for him everyday," Kari Bauer said.
Kari Bauer described her husband as an entertainer who made everyone around him laugh and loved boating and playing football. After serving in the Army, he planned to move back to his hometown in Colorado, become a firefighter and have children.
Bauer’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Driver and Mechanic Badge.
Bauer is survived by Kari Bauer, of Berthoud, Colo., his father, Gregory Bauer, of LaSalle, Colo., his mother, Connie Haddock, of Loveland, Colo.; and two younger siblings.
His unit planned to hold a memorial service in Iraq. His family said they would bury him in Colorado but hadn't made specific arrangements.
Family and fellow soldiers said that Bauer's impact on their lives was deep and won't be forgotten.
"While this loss will be long and deeply felt by all of us, his legacy will remain – measured by the high caliber of the soldiers he led and the tremendous respect he had earned from his peers and superiors alike," Zeisman said.
"Words cannot express how proud we are of him, and he will always be our hero," Kari Bauer said. "He will always be with us in our hearts and minds and will never be forgotten."