Bomb kills area soldier

A 24-year-old soldier from the area died in Iraq on Saturday, according to his wife.

Christina Penrod said her husband, Army Spc. Justin Penrod, died Saturday when a sniper in Baghdad killed a U.S. soldier. Spc. Penrod and seven other soldiers rushed the house where they thought the gunman was holed up. One stepped on a buried, pressure triggered bomb at the house. Penrod and three other soldiers died; four more were wounded in the blast.

Penrod's family lives in Danville and he and his wife lived in Mahomet before moving to Fort Stewart in Georgia.

Penrod, who lives at Fort Stewart with the couple's 8-month-old son, Colin, said she learned of her husband's death when two military personnel came to her door Saturday.

"I fell on the floor crying," Christina Penrod said. "I don't even remember what they said to me."

Spc. Penrod was on his second tour of duty in Iraq, his wife said, and he'd left for Iraq in July after a year at home.

"The first time he left, we never talked about funeral arrangements," Christina Penrold said, "but the second time, we did."

Her husband told her he wanted to be buried in Danville with military honors and plenty of pictures.

"He picked out a few songs," Christina Penrod said, "and said, 'This is what I want. I want everyone to remember me and not mourn over me.'"

Spc. Penrod's stepmother, Diane Penrod of Danville, said he'll be remembered as a good father and a good man.

"I think he kind of knew his job was to fight for his country, and that's what he did," Diane Penrod said.

Christina Penrod said no funeral arrangements have been made because her husband's body must be returned from Iraq. However, Spc. Penrod will have a visitation in Champaign; his funeral will be in Danville.

Stockton soldier dies

A 23-year-old Army sergeant from the northern Illinois community of Stockton has been killed in Iraq, family members said.

Sergeant Andrew Wayne Lancaster was killed in action over the weekend, according to his family. They said the military hasn't yet given any specifics about his death.

In a letter to The (Freeport) Journal-Standard newspaper, Lancaster's stepfather Steve Vanderheyden said "it is important to allow his family sufficient time to comprehend and accept this tragedy."

"Andy's life has been a genuine blessing to many, many people," he said. "And we all look forward to an opportunity to celebrate his accomplishments as a true hero."

Lancaster's wife Tabbatha, who was his high school sweetheart, echoed those sentiments in an interview with the newspaper Sunday.

"I just want them to remember him as a hero," she said.

Lancaster attended Stockton High School before graduating from Freeport High in 2002.

He was previously deployed to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army's 173d Airborne Brigade. He was most recently stationed with the 1st Battalion 30th Infantry division out of Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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