Four Mississippi soldiers were killed Monday in Iraq. Three of them were from very close to home in South Mississippi.
The soldiers were killed when a bomb exploded near their humvee in Haswa, just south of Baghdad. All were part of the 155th Brigade Combat Team that trained at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg.
Family members say Private First Class Bryan Barron, 26, of Gulfport just joined the military last summer, and had deployed to Iraq in January. Those who loved him say Barron strongly believed in serving his country.
"He was very adamant about wanting to go and fight for his country. He just found the place that he belonged and it was where he wanted to be. He showed bravery and took that challenge and put his life at risk and he paid the ultimate price for that," his brother-in-law Ken Daniels said.
Specialist Danny Varnado, 23, of Saucier was also killed in the attack in Haswa. Sharon Vanardo told WLOX News that her husband was deeply loved by his family.
"The only thing his friends and family are using to get through this is that he is watching over all of us with love and we are filled with his love and a great respect and honor of him."
Specialist Varnado entered the Guard in November of 2000. His wife says he received Army Achievement Award while at Camp Shelby. He graduated from Harrison Central in 1999.
His friends say there are so many things they are going to miss about him.
"Just being around him, his personality. You could call him anytime. The thing I'll miss most is his laugh. He had a unique laugh," Varnado's friend Daniel Rolison remembered.
Both soldiers leave behind wives and children. Varnado had one-year-old son. Barron had a daughter nearly one-year-old, and an eight-year-old daughter.
Family members say both men were due to come home for leave in just weeks. Funeral arrangements are not yet complete.
Sgt. Saburant "Sabe" Parker of the Foxworth community in Marion County was also one of those killed, according to family members.
His mother-in-law, Dimple Compton, said Parker, 43, was a 16-year veteran with the Guard and had previously served in Bosnia.
Compton said Parker had two daughters and a stepson. She said he worked at a lumber company in Angie, La.
"He loved what he did,'' Compton said of the soldier. "That's what he wanted to do. He was where he wanted to be.''
The other soldier killed was Corporal Audrey Daron Lunsford of Sardis in North Mississippi.
Lunsford had worked for the Batesville Fire Department for a time and had been a member of the Sardis Police Department from December 2001 to August 2004.
The Rev. Steve Cannon, a Pentecostal minister in Batesville, said Lunsford had married his daughter, Vangi. He said the Lunsfords had lived in the Sardis area but that Vangi had returned to his home while her husband was serving in Iraq.