CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) -- Family members and fellow soldiers remembered Utah National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Wood as a fine officer and credit to his country.
Wood was killed Saturday and two other Utah soldiers were wounded when a bomb struck their Humvee.
"I personally always felt he would be protected by heavenly forces and that he would come home safely," Wood's mother, Jody, of Cannon City, Colo. "We had faith, and Ronnie was doing what he wanted to do. He was proud to be in the Guard and to serve in Iraq."
She said her husband, however, was always worried about their son's safety and when two uniformed officers came to their door Sunday, he couldn't even speak.
"He just said 'Oh, no' and collapsed," she said. "Then, he backed away to the couch. I walked to the door and just stared at them. You know that's the only reason they come to the door in a dress uniform."
The family is working with the Guard to organize a full military funeral. It hasn't been determined when her son's body will be returned to the U.S., but when it does, funeral services will be held at the Utah National Guard Armory in Cedar City.
Wood will be buried in Hurricane next to his grandparents.
Wood's brother, Nathan, said he and Ron would have been in the same unit after his brother's tour of duty in Iraq was completed.
"I wouldn't have joined if it wasn't for him," Nathan said.
"You do not get over the loss of a soldier like Ron Wood," Utah National Guard Adjutant General Brian Tarbot said.
"He's the best (non-commissioned officer) I've ever worked with," B Battery, 148th Field Artillery Battalion Capt. Darcy Burt said. "He's the total package, and I cannot replace him."
Survivors include his parents, Ron and Jody Wood, and three other siblings besides Nathan: Cody, Johnny and Julie.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)