Staff Sgt. Christopher Moudry loved to run. But there's not much room in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, so Moudry liked to stretch his legs when he emerged from his tank.
A five-mile jaunt around the Army base in Taji, Iraq, was nothing for the one-time track athlete from Perry Hall High.
"We had mandatory five-milers three times a week, and Chris would always whip up on people," said Richard Basl, who served with Moudry in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. "When I met him, I was 18 and a soccer player, and he was 28 and a heavy smoker - and he still ran faster than I did."
While home on leave, Moudry jogged endlessly around the old neighborhood, reminiscent of his senior year (1992) on the cross country team. At Perry Hall, his mother said, Moudry once missed the morning bus, quickly calculated the shortest route to school and ran the 1 1/2 miles to campus, through back yards and underbrush.
"He was so proud that he was able to beat the bus there," Marie Moudry said.
A wiry bantam of a soldier in size 31 camouflage pants, Moudry hardly looked the part of a section sergeant commanding three Bradleys, the multimillion-dollar cavalry vehicles the Army used for risky reconnaissance missions. He bore more of a resemblance to a rumpled GI in a Bill Mauldin cartoon from World War II.
"[Soldiers] told me they'll always remember Chris with a smoke in his mouth and his hands in his pockets," his mother said.
Like many distance runners, she said, her son "always danced to the beat of a different drummer."
Chris Moudry, 31, and three other soldiers were killed Oct. 4, 2006, by small-arms fire in Taji.
Quiet and unassuming, Moudry - an 11-year veteran - earned a reputation as a levelheaded leader under fire, said Basl, now an Army recruiter in Austin, Texas.
"His [Army Personnel Testing] scores were off of the chart," Basl said. "Common-sense-wise and tactically and technically, Chris had a pretty good level of focus."
It was a focus honed as a hurdler and distance runner at Perry Hall, said track coach Jerry Martin, now retired.
"Chris' demeanor was that of a leader," Martin said. "But he wouldn't get in anybody's face.
"It was strictly leadership by example."