Before deploying to Iraq, Paul Balint Jr. and the rest of his team would gather for barbecues at Sgt. Paul Able's home.
"He was so excited when I finally got my gas grill, and when he would get to my house, he would grab a beer and some meat and kick me off my grill and go to town," said Able.
Balint, 22, of Willow Park, Texas, was killed Dec. 15 by small-arms fire in Ramadi. He was assigned to Friedberg, Germany.
Pfc. Justin Armenta remembered meeting Balint for the first time during training in Germany. Balint came up and asked if he could use Armenta's cell phone.
Armenta gave him a dirty look and asked him why. "I need to call my dad and tell him I'm all right, I'm in Germany, and I love him," was Balint's reply. "That was the person he was," Armenta said.
His family, recalling his love for hip-hop, said he was looking forward to coming home so he could put words and music to the movies that he recorded in Iraq.
He is survived by his parents, Paul Sr. and Cameron.
"He never met a stranger," Paul Sr. said. "It'd be pretty hard to find somebody that didn't like him. He didn't have a bad word to say about anybody."
Published online on Dec. 22, 2006