The Department of Defense says Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Elwell, of Holland, Pa. was killed Saturday by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province.
Also killed was Pfc. Tyler Springmann of Hartland, Maine
The men were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Seven other soldiers were wounded.
The unit began its one-year deployment to Afghanistan in May.
Elwell leaves behind two children - 6-year-old Elise and 4-year-old Nicholas - along with his wife, Kristen.
The family had recently moved to Alaska after Elwell was transferred due to a promotion.
His wife phoned from that base to ask Elwell's mother, Janice, if she'd gotten "a call."
"I thought it was Kenny calling through from Afghanistan and she said 'No. Kenny's dead.' And I screamed 'Oh no, my baby!"
The youngest of five, Elwell was a varsity soccer player at Council Rock High School.
"If anybody ever told me that I'd be burying my youngest brother I'd tell him you're nuts. It's so hard," said brother Mike Elwell.
He enlisted in the military in 1997 and served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.
"He was doing what he wanted to do. it was his dream to do that and he fulfilled it," said brother Scott Elwell.
His mom says she used to joke with her son that he may be a sergeant, but she was the general of the family and so she was in charge.
"He told me on the phone about a month ago this was his final deployment, that he figured he needed to be home more with Nicholas and Elise," she said.
Funeral arrangements are pending, though his family says Elwell will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.