A Virginia Beach man assigned to Fort Eustis was one of three soldiers killed Wednesday in an attack at Balad Air Base in Iraq. The attack wounded 23 soldiers and two civilians, Department of Defense officials said.
Spec. Jeremy M. Dimaranan, 29, was a reservist with the 302nd Transportation Company -- 172nd Combat Support Group. He leaves behind a wife, Maria Dimaranan, and three children, ages 6, 4 and 1.
The Virginia Beach soldier's mother, Emelinda Dimaranan, who was interviewed at her son's home, said she's "very, very proud" of him.
She said her son once told her that his patriotism caused him to become a soldier. "He said, 'We came from the Philippines and I want to serve America,' " Dimaranan said.
The attack of either a rocket or mortar fire struck a Base Exchange, where soldiers shop, at Camp Anaconda, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, military authorities said. Air and ground units responded to the scene.
Officials offered conflicting accounts of the attack. A statement from the Coalition Press Information Center in Baghdad said a rocket struck the camp, known as Logistics Support Area Anaconda. But a Pentagon statement said several mortars -- not a rocket -- hit the site.
Mortars and rockets are explosives frequently used by Iraqi insurgents. A mortar is a short-barreled cannon that can hurl projectiles. Rockets are generally more destructive and can be fired at longer ranges.
Fourteen injured soldiers were evacuated by ambulance to a hospital, while 11 others were treated at a clinic, the coalition statement said.
One soldier died at the scene, while two others died sometime later as a result of their wounds, the coalition statement said.
The transportation company of which Dimaranan was a member mobilized in December and deployed to Iraq in February, said Cindy Your, a Fort Eustis spokeswoman.
Family members said Dimaranan, a dedicated family man, recently e-mailed a poem about his 1-year-old son, Jerico. It ended with: "I miss his touch. I miss his voice. I miss him so much. My little baby Jerico."
Dimaranan's best friend, Aristotle Jimenez said Dimaranan wanted only to provide for his wife and children when he got married.The two other soldiers killed Wednesday were Maj. Paul R. Syverson III, 32, of Lake Zurich, Ill., and Sgt. Arthur S. Mastrapa, 35, of Apopka, Fla.
Syverson was assigned to the Army's 5th Special Forces Group based in Fort Campbell, Ky. Syverson graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1993 and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Start for helping quash a prison revolt in Afghanistan in 2001.
Mastrapa was an Army reservist with the 351st Military Police Company, 95th Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, of Ocala, Fla.
The three soldiers were killed just 10 days after an earlier mortar attack at Camp Anaconda took the life of one U.S. soldier and injured a second soldier.
On July 4, 18 U.S. soldiers were injured in a mortar attack.
WAVY-TV 10 and the Associated Press contributed to this report.