An Army captain killed in Iraq was remembered Wednesday as an impeccable soldier and leader who loved his command and put his troops'welfare above all else.
Capt. Joshua Byers was killed July 23 when a homemade bomb was placed under his Humvee outside Ramadi, Iraq.
"We lost one of our best and brightest last week and the world is now a darker place,"Lt. Dan Lawrence, who served with Byers, said at a memorial service at Fort Carson.
Byers, 29, is the 13th Fort Carson soldier to die in Iraq. His funeral and burial tentatively are planned for Saturday at Lisbon Presbyterian Church in Mountville, S.C.
The son of Baptist missionaries who moved often, Byers attended high school in Sparks, Nev.
About 600 soldiers, including some who were wounded in combat in Iraq, crammed Soldiers Memorial Chapel for Wednesday's memorial. Also present were several wives of soldiers still in Iraq.
Those who knew Byers told stories of how he could make people laugh in the toughest of times.
On one occasion he pulled on red, white and blue boxer shorts, wrapped a Kuwaiti flag around his shoulders like a cape and struck a pose.
"He proceeded to stand by for photos,"said Staff Sgt. Sean Watson, who witnessed such morale-boosting antics.
Others recalled heroic acts, including Byers tiptoeing into a minefield to rescue children who had ventured there in search of firewood and pushing a fellow captain behind a wall as shrapnel poured down on them.
"Afterward, he said he didn't remember doing it,"said Capt. Jesse Sellars, Byers'best friend."He was the finest among all of us."
Byers, a 1996 West Point graduate, commanded Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.
He was married to Kim Byers and was the son of Baptist missionaries Lloyd and Mary Byers. He himself was a Southern Baptist lay leader.
His parents are director of missions for the Guam Baptist Association, and Lloyd Byers earlier served as a pastor in Sparks, Nev.; Mountville, S.C.; and Mt. Airy, Ga.