RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) - An Army soldier from Kentucky had just been married months before he was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb.
Pfc. Theodore West, 23, of Richmond, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. He was killed on Wednesday in Baghdad.
His family, who called West "Coty," said in a statement that he loved serving in the military.
"Coty volunteered for military service because he wanted to make a difference in the world and keep those he loved safe," the statement said. "In his letters, he continually said that he believed in his job, that he was good at his job, and that he would not let those he loved or the fellow soldiers in his company down on his watch."
West joined the Army in August 2005, and left for Iraq less than a month ago, after marrying Jennifer Gregory on July 8, the family said. He was an outdoorsman who liked hunting and fishing and also enjoyed working on trucks and cars, family members said.
"We wish everyone to know that he was very important and special to us all. ... His life and time made a difference," the family statement said.
His death shocked a friend of West's who went to school with him at Estill County High School.
Christy Abrams said she found out as she was getting up early to drive from Irvine to visit a car dealership because she was a finalist with a chance at winning a new Ford F-150 truck through a radio station promotion.
Abrams said she decided to donate the truck - if she won - to help Kentucky families who have lost a relative or had a relative injured in Iraq.
Abrams won the truck, which is worth almost $20,000.
"My jaw just dropped," she said. "I just kinda looked around like, 'You got to be kidding me."'
West said she was excited about winning but knew she had to stick to her decision.
"The truck is really cool," she said. "But it means a lot more to us to be able to help this many families. And it's a lot bigger thing than somebody owning a truck with signatures on it. When it comes down to it, it's just a truck."
Plans haven't been made for a truck auction. The car dealership, Paul Miller Ford, has offered to pay all sales tax on the truck after learning about Abram's intentions.
Funeral arrangements for West are pending.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved