The four soldiers who died in Iraq after an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee on Monday in Baghdad were all from Eastern North Carolina.
The Department of Defense identified them Thursday as Spc. Robert L. Bittiker, 39, of Jacksonville; Sgt. Roger L. Adams Jr., 36, of Jacksonville; Sgt. Juan C. Baldeosingh, 30, of Newport; and Sgt. 1st Class Edward C. Kramer, 39, of Wilmington, were assigned to the 120th Combined Arms Battalion in Wilmington.
Bittiker was serving with the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Unit, said his stepfather, Brian Wheat of Jacksonville.
Bittiker leaves behind his wife Tami, and two sons Cameron, 14, and Ronnie, 18, who just graduated from Southwest High School, Wheat said.
This was Bittiker's third deployment and second time in Iraq, Wheat said.
He said no funeral arrangements have been made at this time.
"We are still waiting to hear from the National Guard to tell us when his body will arrive," he said.
He said the news of his stepson's death spread very fast before the official announcement was made and the family received many phone calls and online messages of support.
"He was a very hard working guy - he was a foreman for Elijah Morton (Trucking, Inc.)," Wheat said. "He loved his sons very much - followed them through all their sports. He loved fishing."
A member of Adams' family told The Daily News via telephone Thursday night that a statement about Adams was given to the National Guard to be relayed to the news media when his death was officially announced.
Attempts by The Daily News to obtain the statement from media representatives for the National Guard on the national, state and local level were unsuccessful.
Baldeosingh, a former Marine, was a security guard at Carteret General Hospital. His death came just one day shy of his fifth anniversary of employment at Carteret General Hospital, where he planned to return to work full-time after his deployment.
He was remembered by coworkers for his kind spirit and his dedication to country.
"He always had a smile on his face and was very kind and passionate about serving his country," said hospital spokeswoman Beth Beswick.
The hospital will hold a memorial for Baldeosingh on Monday.
Little information was available about Kramer.
A search of New Hanover County property records lists Edward C. Kramer as the owner of a house in the Whitney Pines area. On Wednesday afternoon, an American flag flew half-staff in front of the home, according to the Star News of Wilmington.
The deaths bring to 15 the total number of North Carolina National Guard soldiers killed in action since Sept. 11, 2001, according to The Associated Press.
North Carolina National Guard commander Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. said "the people of our state mourn today with the families of these fine soldiers."
COMPANY A, 1ST BATTALION, 120TH INFANTRY, WHITEVILLE, NC LOCATION:BAGHDAD, IRAQ