Two soldiers from Reno have been killed, one in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan, military officials said.
Army Specialist David Joseph Drakulich, 22, member of a well-known Nevada family, was killed Wednesday near Chagali, Afghanistan, when his vehicle was hit by a mine.
Army Staff Sgt. Sean M. Gaul, 29, was among six soldiers who died Wednesday in Sinsil, Iraq, after an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations.
Gov. Jim Gibbons said flags at the Nevada Capitol were flown at half-staff Friday in honor of Drakulich and will be flown at half-staff Monday in honor of Gaul.
Drakulich, a forward observer and expert rifleman who was serving his third tour in Afghanistan, was in the 12th month of a 15-month tour when killed.
"We have lost one of Nevada's finest and will remember him for his honorable service to our country and for the many sacrifices he made in the name of democracy so that we may live in a safer world," Gibbons said.
Drakulich was assigned to the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
"It's heartbreaking," Drakulich's grandfather, Duke Drakulich, said Thursday. "I really never wanted him to join, I don't know why. But that's what he wanted. He was a very nice boy. I'm sure he's up in heaven. That's it."
He said his grandson, son of Joseph and Tina Drakulich, was born and raised in Reno, graduated from Hug High School in 2003, and attended Truckee Meadows Community College before joining the Army.
The Drakulich family has ties throughout the state. Stan Drakulich, Duke's brother, served in the state Senate in the early 1970s.
Gaul, who is survived by his wife and a daughter, was serving his fifth tour in Iraq and Afghanistan when he was killed while on patrol in the Diyala Province. He was first deployed to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Gaul completed the U.S. Army's sniper school before deploying a final time. He attended Reed High School, where he was a member of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps and passed the GED exam in 1997.
"Staff Sgt. Gaul was an extraordinary and dedicated soldier who made the ultmate sacrifice for his country while serving his fifth tour of duty in support of the global war on terror," Gibbons said.
Gaul was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany.
His wife, Jessica, said he loved his job and was well aware of the risks when he re-enlisted. She called him a "very good man and loving husband.
"It seemed Sean was a lifer for sure," she said. "He did not waiver from his responsibility. He always trained hard as he led the way by example. He was focused and determined as he sought out more special forces training."
Funeral services are pending for both soldiers.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)