Brian Mack had put in long, hard years with the Army and could have taken a job as headquarters staff. Instead, he volunteered to be a platoon sergeant to young Army scouts.
"Most would have sat back and said, 'I've done my time,' but not Mack," said Lt. Robert Decker. "You couldn't drag him away from troops. He risked his life with us every day, being with his boys."
Mack, 36, of Phoenix, died Jan. 13 in Mosul, Iraq, when shrapnel from a roadside bomb hit him as he stood in his Stryker vehicle. He was based at Fort Lewis.
He is survived by his wife, Lisa, and daughter, Ashley, 17.
Mack joined the Army at the age of 20, and soldiers recalled him as a great leader, teacher and mentor. For most of the past couple of years Mack was in charge of advanced specialty training across the 4,200-soldier 1st Brigade.
"He was the best, and he loved to train soldiers," said Carlton Dedrich, who retired last year as the brigade's command sergeant major. "He was the most passionate leader and soldier that I ever met."