By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
The Pentagon reported one combat casualty last week in the Middle East. Army Sgt. Corey Spates was killed Feb. 10 by a roadside bomb in Iraq's Diyala Province.
"I'm 21 years old," he wrote earlier in MySpace. "I've been in the Army for over three years. I am looking forward to getting out after this deployment, but it has been good to me.
"I am from LaGrange, Georgia. It's a little hick town that everyone wants to leave when they are young, but most (including me) can't wait to get back to one day.
"I have spent a year in Iraq (2005), and am now back for my second and final tour of destruction. I know it sounds funny to say, but I couldn't wait to go back, everything seems so much easier [in Iraq].
"I have been married almost a year and am looking forward to starting a family of my own when I get out of here, so I wouldn't mind if the war ended tomorrow.
"My wife [Celeste] is incredible. She is everything to me, and I am very grateful to have someone like her."
Funeral arrangements for Sgt. Spates were pending.
The Pentagon also announced the death last week of Army Staff Sgt. Javares Washington, 27, of Pensacola, Fla., in a vehicle accident in Kuwait.
Click here to view individual tributes to the 64 service members who've died this year in the Middle East.
Photo caption: Celeste and Corey Spates (and Corey's younger brother, Jacob)
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He posts a weekly tribute to service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and also files stories on the military at www.fieldnotes.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories").