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Iraq Transition

In midst of search, troops remember dead comrade

Story Highlights

• NEW: Weeping family declares its pride over fallen soldier
• Four arrests in "honor killing" of 17-year-old Kurdish girl
• Two U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad combat Thursday
• Two Iraqi ABC News journalists killed in car ambush, TV network says
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A fourth soldier identified as killed in an ambush in Iraq that left three other troops missing had a great sense of humor, his platoon leader said Friday.

The Army told family members Thursday that Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nevada, was among the dead from Saturday's attack.

U.S. and Iraqi forces are undertaking a coordinated hunt for the missing soldiers in dangerous territory south of Baghdad.

"I was very proud of him," Schober's father, Ed Schober, said at a news conference Friday.

Pausing often amid his tears, as other family members stood beside him crying, Schober said his son was on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq. (Watch Ed Schober describe his son's dedication to the military Video)

"When he came home from basic training ... I noticed a huge difference in him. He truly changed from a boy to a man," the father said. Anthony -- whom Edward adopted at the age of 2 after meeting his mother -- was motivated by the September 11 attacks to join the military, Schober said.

Robert Schober, the soldier's uncle, said: "Going to Iraq ... was something that he felt he needed to do. The Army life fit him well."

Schober's platoon leader described him as a "tall, goofy kind of guy." (Platoon leader lauds comrades)

Schober's powerful sense of humor was shared by the other soldiers killed or missing in the ambush, the platoon chief said, forging a strong bond among them.

Chaplain Jeff Bryan described Schober's comrades as "very angry" about the attack, "but we've dealt with losses of our soldiers before, and I tend to find that these soldiers are not ready to quit. They're ready to just keep going."

The four soldiers were killed with an Iraqi soldier in the early morning ambush outside Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, and three other U.S. soldiers were apparently captured by the attackers.

With Schober's identity known, the following soldiers can be identified as missing, or "duty status whereabouts unknown": Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, California; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan.

The U.S. military has dedicated thousands of troops to finding the missing soldiers in a search operation through an area known as the "Triangle of Death." (Read more about the widespread and dangerous search)

The search includes Iraqi soldiers as well as troops from the 10th Mountain Division, the U.S. military said. "We have been averaging about 20 events a day and we're providing cots, food and water to those assisting with the search," said Col. Michael Kershaw, Second Brigade Combat Team commander in a written statement Friday.

Soldiers have also been seeking tips from Iraqis about the missing soldiers' whereabouts.

"Although some tips may not be accurate, it is important for each one to be investigated," said Maj. Rob Griggs, the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment operations officer Friday.

Military officials said the search will continue until the three are found. (Watch soldiers reflect on the disappearance of their colleagues Video)

The U.S. military is offering a $200,000 reward for information about the location of the soldiers or persons involved in their disappearance. The military also is dropping about 150,000 leaflets from helicopters near where the soldiers disappeared. (Watch how the U.S. military is trying to encourage Iraqis to help the hunt Video)

Three other soldiers killed in Saturday's attack have been identified by military forensics experts at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as: Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Gladys, Virginia; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Vermontville, Michigan; and Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tennessee.

The slain and missing U.S. soldiers were based at Fort Drum, New York. The seven have been identified as members of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade Combat Team.

Two U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad

The U.S. military also released details Friday about attacks in Baghdad that killed two U.S. soldiers Thursday and wounded nine others.

The casualties occurred in separate attacks in unspecified areas of the capital's south side. Three of the nine wounded have returned to duty, the military said.

Troops have been seizing weapons in the area recently, according to the military. Forces have detained more than 20 people during the past few weeks.

The deaths put the number of U.S. military service members killed in May at 55 and the number killed in the war at 3,406, including seven civilian contractors.

Other developments

  • Authorities in northern Iraq arrested four people in connection with the "honor killing" last month of a 17-year-old Kurdish girl that was caught on a cell-phone video and televised across on the world. Two of the four arrested are members of the victim's family, police in Nineveh province said Thursday. Four others, including a cousin thought to have instigated the killing, are being sought. The girl whose religion is Yazidi, was dragged into a crowd with police looking on and kicked, beaten and stoned to death last month. Authorities believe she was killed for being seen with a Sunni Muslim man. Many followers of Yazidi, an ancient Middle Eastern religion, disapprove of mixing with people of other faiths. (Read more about honor killing)
  • Attackers ambushed and killed two Iraqi ABC News journalists Thursday, news division president David Weston said Friday. The victims were a cameraman and a sound technician who were killed while returning home from work at the ABC News Baghdad bureau, Weston said.
  • Four Falluja City Council members in the key western Iraqi city have been killed over the past year, an example of what a U.S. military commander said Friday is a terror tactic. Marine Col. Richard Simcock said the council members have been replaced and the council continues to meet. He said he is proud of the city leaders for not giving in to intimidation.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon contributed to this report.

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