The family of Christopher Birdwell, 25, was notified of his death by Army officials late Sunday night, and the word began spreading through the town and across Facebook on Monday.

"Everybody loved him," said his brother, Dustin, 23. "He was a really fun guy to be around.

Birdwell joined the Army when he was 18, a few months after graduating from Windsor High School, and he re-enlisted when his initial contract was up. Dustin Birdwell said his brother took great pride in being a leader of his fellow soldiers.

According to Army records, Chris Birdwell made sergeant in February 2011, and his brother said he found a second family within the ranks.

"He was loved by his brotherhood," Dustin Birdwell said.

He said many of the men who served with his brother called or messaged him on Monday to share memories and condolences.

John Sears, who attends the same Windsor Church of Christ as the Birdwell family, said Chris Birdwell's repeated tours of duty in the "backyard of nowhere" brought him closer to the family he didn't get to see very often.

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