Capt. Chris Cash was a National Guardsman from Winterville in Pitt County. He died Thursday, when more than 100 people were killed, including three U.S. soldiers, as U.S. and Iraqi forces fought with insurgents.
Cash's hometown remembered its local hero Friday.
Those who knew him best said Cash -- who left behind 11- and 13-year old sons and his wife of three years, Dawn -- was a great man, a great soldier and a great father.
Cash's co-workers plan to start of college fund for his sons.
"He was the kindest person you'll ever meet," Dawn Cash said. "The kindest heart. He did the things in life that he loved."
Dawn Cash said one of her husband's loves was the military. He spent four years in the Army and 14 in the National Guard, as part of the 30th Brigade.
His deployment to Iraq in late February was his first.
"I just keep saying that he's in a better place," Dawn Cash said, "that he's with God."
Back in the civilian world, Cash was a personal trainer at a wellness center in Greenville. News of his death reached the front door there Friday morning.
"We're just in a state of disbelief," said Missy Jacobson, Cash's friend and co-worker. "We can't really believe that he's not coming back. I'm not sure that it's settled for most of us."
His friends set up a memorial for Cash inside. Co-workers described him as a great motivator who brought a special energy to work. They said he carried that spirit to Iraq.
"He wanted to fight for his country," Jacobson said. "He wanted to go."
Dawn Cash said it was not just about being where the action was. She said her husband truly wanted to help others and give something back.
"He sacrificed his all for us," she said. "I just hope we all appreciate what he and so many others have done."
Nearly 5,000 Guardsmen from Cash's unit are still in Iraq.
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