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Army Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg, 21, of Batesville, Miss.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 15 when two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq.

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2nd Miss. soldier ID'd in fatal crash

By Ryan Clark, The Clarion-Ledger

Damian Heidelberg, 21, of Shubuta killed in helicopter collision in Iraq

His grandmother said he was kind, nice and honorable.

Then again, she said, that's how all grandmothers see their grandsons.

"All I can say is that I couldn't ask for a better one," said Bitha Heidelberg, from her home in Clarke County.

Her grandson, 21-year-old Pfc. Damian L. Heidelberg, a Shubuta native, was among the 17 killed Saturday in Iraq when two Black Hawk helicopters collided.

The crash, the single deadliest incident for American servicemen since the war began March 20, took the lives of two Mississippians.

Jeremy DiGiovanni of Pike County was crew chief on one of the helicopters who also died in the crash.

"Life is always going to treat you rough," said Phyllis Heidelberg, Damian's aunt. "But he was always the type of person to just get back up, stay on his toes."

Bitha Heidelberg said she was told Sunday of her grandson's death.

"He had this smile, his whole face would light up," she said. "His mother was a working, single mom, so I took care of him, and he would always tag along with me to church."

That was the Bethel United Methodist Church in Clarke County, where Damian Heidelberg sang in the choir.

"He had a wonderful voice," Bitha Heidelberg said.

Damian Heidelberg attended Quitman High School, then entered the military Sept. 17, 2002.

He was an administrative specialist with the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne based in Fort Campbell, Ky.

Relatives said Deborah Heidelberg, the soldier's mother, did not want to discuss any details about her son's death.

"She's been grieving real hard," Phyllis Heidelberg said.

Bitha Heidelberg said funeral arrangements could not be made until the military, which is still investigating the crash, sends the body home, which could be as long as two weeks.

Damian Heidelberg, the ninth Mississippian killed in Iraq, left behind a brother, a sister and a 2-year-old daughter, Stacy, who lives with her mother and stepfather in Shubuta.

"We have nothing but pride for him," Bitha Heidelberg said.

"I'm hurting real bad, and I was always afraid for him, but nothing can stop the pride we feel."