CARTHAGE, N.C. — The battle in Iraq has claimed 24 troops who call North Carolina home. The latest victim is a man from Moore County. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Voss of Carthage was killed when he drove over a roadside bomb.
Many people called Voss "the colonel." His rank was sergeant, but his personality earned him a higher rank -- at least in their eyes.
"He had this way about him," said co-worker Dave Fedorchak. "He'd say something and give you this million dollar smile."
Voss, 35, died Friday near Tikrit when his convoy vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.
Voss joined the army in 1988 and spent nearly 10 years on active duty and seven in the N.C. National Guard. He served in the first Gulf War and Panama. He was decorated with a Purple Heart and also held three Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement Medals and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
"He was worried about leaving his family (for Iraq)," said Fedorchak. "But, he wanted to serve our country."
Voss was a squad leader assigned to the Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, based in Wilmington.
In his civilian life, Voss worked at the Caterpillar plant in Sanford for 11 years.
"We've felt sadness, a loss, but, also pride," said Fedorchak. "Proud to have known him."
His death is the fifth for the North Carolina National Guard since Sept. 11, 2001, and the fourth for the brigade since its deployment.
"The North Carolina National Guard has suffered a great loss," Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram, Jr., adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard, said in a statement. "Staff Sgt. Voss was a longtime soldier who dedicated his life to serving his state and his nation. We are grieving with his family."
Voss is survived by his wife, Emily Voss, and two children.