(AP) - An Army medic from Woodbury died in an attack in Afghanistan, his family said Monday.
Army Spec. Conor G. Masterson, 21, died Saturday of wounds he suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, the Defense Department said in a news release.
"He was a comedian," said his mother, Sandra Masterson. "And it didn't matter what was happening, he made you laugh."
Masterson was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, based at Hohenfels, Germany.
He was on patrol when he was killed, said his relatives, who got the news on Easter morning when military officers came to their Woodbury home. The bomb exploded near the Humvee in which he was riding, killing him and another American soldier.
"We loved him," said his father, Mark Masterson, of St. Paul.
Masterson's family said he had been married less than a year. He was third-generation military and a 2004 graduate of Woodbury High School, where Principal Linda Plante broke the news to students Monday.
"When one of ours is hit, I think it's felt very deeply by all of the students and the family. We're a pretty close-knit community.
His mother said he served proudly.
"Conor was a wonderful, caring person who made a lot of people happy," she said.
Sandra Masterson sat next to her 17-year-old son, Evan, and Conor's wife, Lorena, on Monday evening as she spoke about their loss. Conor and Lorena had married last June after meeting two years earlier in a Woodbury eatery where they both worked.
At Woodbury High School, Conor Masterson learned to speak Spanish and developed a desire to study other cultures, so it seemed natural that he joined the military, his mother said. He wanted to see the world and have new experiences before pursuing a college degree, she said.
Masterson joined the Army in February 2005 and went to Afghanistan in September 2005. He would call his wife nearly every day, and his mother once or twice a week.
"He was always so excited as he learned each new (medical) procedure and helped somebody," his mother said. "He was really proud, and we were really proud of him."
Evan Masterson recalled one night when he sent a text message to his older brother in Germany about a problem he was having. Within 30 seconds, Conor called with brotherly advice.
"He basically helped guide my life," Evan said.
One other piece of brotherly advice was that Evan should go to college right after high school instead of joining the military.
Masterson had planned to return to Minnesota, go to college and pursue a medical career, his family said.
His mother's eyes were filled with tears as she spoke.
"There's no day that can make it better than it is," she said. "It is what it is."
Masterson's death raised number of people with strong Minnesota ties who have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to 57. Masterson was the third Minnesota soldier killed in Afghanistan.
The announcement from the Defense Department listed his hometown as Inver Grove Heights, but his family said he grew up in Vadnais Heights and Woodbury.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)