WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The military says four soldiers from North Carolina were killed in Iraq last week.
Sgt. 1st Class Edward Kramer, 39, of Wilmington was more than soldier - he was a firefighter and a father of two.
"Ed was close to a lot of people," said Michael Bannon, Kramer's friend. "Even if you meet him just once, you have a best friend. It's still a shock it doesn't seem real."
Kramer died in Baghdad Monday night when an IED detonated near his Humvee. Three other members of the North Carolina National Guard also died.
In a statement, Kramer's wife Vicki said he loved his family, and Kramer's friend of 20 years agrees.
"Ed was definitely a character," said Bannon. "He loved practical jokes. He loved hanging out with his friends. These two little girls were the biggest thing in his life."
When Kramer wasn't overseas he served as a firefighter for Sunny Point Fire Rescue.
"One of the fondest things was when he was talking to me and telling me not to be walked on - stand strong, don't let anyone knock you over," said Kevin Fitzgerald who worked with Kramer. "He said do that and you'll be strong the rest of your life."
A visitation will take place Wednesday evening, July 8 from 3:00-8:00 at Andrews Valley Chapel on S. College Road.
Kramer's funeral will be Thursday morning at 10:00 at Saint Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington.