Army Sgt. Daniel Jordan Shaw, 23, of West Seneca, was killed Monday by an explosion in Iraq, the Defense Department announced.
He is the second Western New York serviceman to die in Iraq in a week. Army Pfc. Dwane A. Covert Jr., 20, of the Town of Tonawanda, died of injuries suffered in a noncombat incident Saturday.
Shaw's family, informed of his death late Monday afternoon, said that he was hit by an explosion while being evacuated from Taji, where his unit had just completed a mission. Military officials said that his death was under investigation.
The soldier had been in Iraq since October 2006 with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team in the 2nd Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson, Colo.
"He was supposed to be home by September," his sister, Angela Hinterberger, said Tuesday, "but his tour was extended. He was getting ready to send stuff home. He was going to spend Christmas with his girlfriend's family in Colorado, then he was supposed to be out completely in April. He was going to move back to Buffalo."
Shaw's father, Ronald, said the family had been scheduled Thursday to close on a house for him and his girlfriend.
Shaw "was just a big goofball," his sister said, "and that's what we loved him for. He was a very outgoing guy. He was just a guy who wanted to help people. He was big, spiritwise, and he loved to play practical jokes on my mother. The last time we talked, we were planning the next one."
Shaw hoped to join the Army after he left West Seneca West High School in 2002, his sister said. When he didn't pass the test to enlist, he successfully completed general education diploma classes and entered the service in July 2004.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion in January 2005 and was deployed to Iraq for eight months, then was stationed for a year in the demilitarized zone in Korea before returning to Iraq. In 2005, Shaw earned a Purple Heart after an insurgent rocket attack left him with shrapnel in back of his head.
Shaw's father said his son specialized as a master breacher, knocking down doors in buildings suspected of holding weapons caches.
The 2nd Brigade has taken heavy casualties in Iraq, noted Joel Millman, an editor at the Colorado Springs Gazette. In two combat tours, he said, the brigade of 4,000 soldiers has sustained 111 fatalities.
"They have no armor, that's been their problem," Millman said. "They can't call in tanks."