United States Army Staff Sergeant Michael D. Elledge, 41, Brownsburg, Indiana.

    Died March 17, 2008 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations.

    He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

    Elledge was considered an old man in his company. The two-tour Iraq veteran was a Marine as a teenager, left the military and joined the Army a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

    "When 9/11 hit, he felt a real need to re-enlist," his sister, Marsha Johnson, said by telephone from Detroit. "He was a real patriot."

    While he loved his country, Elledge managed to put his wife and three children first in his life, Johnson said.

    "The biggest thing for him was his family," she said.

    Elledge's unit had moved in recent weeks from Camp Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad, to a combat outpost closer to the city's core. There, Elledge served as a father figure for younger soldiers far from home.

    "He was always proud of what he did, but he didn't flaunt it," Johnson said. "That was just his nature."

    His dedication to duty had earned him the Army Commendation Medal.

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