A patriotic Boise man who grew up wanting to serve his country was the second Valley soldier to die in Iraq this week, and the 32nd Idahoan to be killed since the war on terrorism began.
Sgt. Michael T. Lilly signed up for four years of Army service on Sept. 11, 2002, one year after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Borah High School graduate carried his patriotism to the battlefield, quickly advancing in rank through his first tour in the Army, an Idaho National Guard release said.
On Monday, well into his second enlistment and wearing the stripes of sergeant, the 23-year-old was killed in battle in Sadr City, northeast of Baghdad.
Lilly's job was to help gain control of a section of Sadr City used to launch attacks into the Green Zone - where Stuart Wolfer of Emmett was killed just a day before.
Lilly and the others in the 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, met some of the heaviest fighting in recent weeks.
According to newspaper and wire service reports coming out of Iraq, the soldiers had been working for about two weeks to regain a checkpoint near the edge of a neighborhood.
Iraqi troops have been unable to hold the location in their battle with Shiite militia fighters, military sources said.
"Michael knew he had an important job to do," his mother said in a prepared statement. "And he did it."
The family has asked not to be named or contacted by the media, but in the statement, his mother said they were proud of their son.
SON, HUSBAND, FRIEND
Lilly is survived by his wife, mother and father, all of whom reside in the Boise area, as well as two brothers and a sister and numerous other relatives and friends.
"He knew what he was doing was important, and there was never any question in his mind that serving in the Army was what he needed to do," his mother said. "His whole life, he wanted to serve our country. He was a good son, a loving husband, a good friend and a patriotic person. That's why he joined the Army."
Lilly had been decorated several times for his service, including with the Combat Infantryman Badge, according to the Idaho National Guard.
"The badge is a rifle above his left pocket. A soldier like Lilly who has been in combat will have a wreath around the badge," said Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard in Boise. "It gets a great deal of respect among Army members."
"Michael loved Idaho, loved the United States and loved the Army," Lilly's father said in the statement. "He was on his second enlistment and he told me he was going to re-enlist a third time.
"He felt so strongly about his career in the Army that he was willing to put that above everything else. With Michael, it was Army and country first."
In addition to providing condolences to the family, The Idaho National Guard is providing casualty assistance.
"Sgt. Michael T. Lilly was a patriot who answered the call to duty and served with honor," Marsano said.
David Kennard: 377-6436
Statesman wire services contributed to this report.