By Bruce Schreiner
The Associated Press
LOUISVILLE - Kentucky's first Army National Guard combat casualty in a generation died a "hero's death" while responding to a mortar attack in Iraq, his mother said Friday.
Sgt. Darrin Potter was remembered by his parents as a warm, compassionate man devoted to family and his military mission.
Potter, 24, a member of the 223rd Military Police Company, died Monday when his military vehicle overturned and submerged in a canal in Baghdad.
"He died serving his country," said his mother, Lynn Romans. "He died a hero's death, and I think that's how we need to remember him."
Potter's fellow guardsmen in Iraq paid tribute to their fallen comrade at memorial services, said Kentucky Adjutant General D. Allen Youngman.
The guardsmen received a short break from duties so they could "catch up a little bit emotionally and physically," he said.
Youngman provided more details about the Kentucky Army National Guard's first combat death since the Vietnam War.
Potter was in a four-vehicle convoy on patrol. A Humvee carrying Potter and other soldiers failed to make a turn and plunged into the canal while responding to a mortar attack by Iraqi insurgents, Youngman said.
All the occupants got out of the vehicle and two made it to shallow water, Youngman said, but Potter was swept away by the swift currents.
A soldier from the 82nd Airborne Division also died while trying to rescue Potter, he said.
Potter was part of a military police squad supporting elements of the 82nd Airborne Division.
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