Army 1st Lt. Daniel B. Hyde, 24, Modesto; killed in grenade attack in Iraq

Army 1st Lt. Daniel B. Hyde always had a desire to become a leader and, his family said, as a young man he displayed the confidence, discipline and humbleness to be a natural.

“He was very regimented; he was perfect for the military,” his mother, Glenda, said in a telephone interview.

In January, Hyde was serving as a platoon leader assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, which is part of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. It was a role he patiently had been waiting to undertake since graduating 23rd out of 968 cadets two years ago at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

But after just two months as a platoon leader, Hyde, 24, was killed March 7 when two anti-tank hand grenades struck his mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle in Tikrit, Iraq, north of Baghdad.

In Modesto, Hyde’s mother said she was home alone when the three Army representatives knocked on her front door.

“I almost didn’t want to open the door,” she said, adding that she at first thought the men had posed as military officers to gain access inside her home to rob her. “But then something came over me like ‘Oh, this is what happens when something bad happens to your kid.’ ”

Glenda Hyde said she was shocked to hear that her son had been killed.

“I was confident that it was safe over there,” she said. "[Daniel] would say ‘It’s really quiet’ and he would tell me a little bit about what he would do . . . he’d say ‘I’m going to meet with people, drink tea and chit-chat,’ and I thought: This doesn’t sound like a war at all.”

Hyde’s ambition to become a leader began in the seventh grade, when he was voted class president. At Thomas Downey High School, he was a three-sport athlete, serving on at least one academic honor society while also serving as the first two-term student body president in the school’s history.

In 2002, he was featured in the Modesto Bee’s Teen Hall of Fame, in which he was quoted: “It’s hard for me not to be the one person people ask for help and depend on.”

Hyde graduated in 2003 with a 4.20 grade point average. He was a volunteer at the Delta Blood Bank, serving cookies and drinks to blood donors, and worked at the Creekside Golf Course.

During his funeral procession in Modesto, the Fire Department blocked several of the intersections, where they saluted him, said Hyde’s father, Brian. Students from Downey High also saluted. “We got probably 700 cards in the week following his death and hundreds of people coming by to the house,” Hyde’s father said. “He touched a lot of people.”

The letters continue to arrive. Everyone has something about him to praise. For the Hydes, it can sometimes be a little too much.

“We expected the kids to be the people that they were suppose to be: people that were respected, that showed respect and had expectations of themselves,” Brian Hyde said.

“But that was something Daniel would have had regardless of the situation he was in. It was just something that came natural to him.”