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Modestan dies in Iraq

Brian Hyde, 49, of Modesto receives condolences from a family friend on the telephone on Sunday March 8, 2009, a day after his son, Daniel Hyde, 24, was killed in Iraq in service with the U.S. Army. (Emilie Raguso/The Modesto Bee)
Brian Hyde, 49, of Modesto receives condolences from a family friend on the telephone on Sunday March 8, 2009, a day after his son, Daniel Hyde, 24, was killed in Iraq in service with the U.S. Army. (Emilie Raguso/The Modesto Bee) The Modesto Bee

A young Modesto man who twice served as the student body president at Downey High and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., died in Iraq on Saturday.

Lt. Daniel Hyde was 24. He is the first Modesto soldier killed in Iraq since 2007.

Hyde was stationed in Samarra, Iraq, his family said. He had been deployed in October as an Airborne Ranger-qualified infantry officer with the 3rd Infantry Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division.

Saturday afternoon, Hyde, a platoon leader, was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his Humvee, said his father, Brian Hyde, 49.

Three U.S. Army representatives visited the family's northeast Modesto home Saturday evening, his family said. Glenda Hyde, Daniel Hyde's mother, was home alone.

"They knocked kind of ferociously," she said Sunday evening. "I was startled and I almost didn't answer it. Then I realized: Oh, this is what happens when something happens to your kid."

The men asked Hyde if there were any family members she could call to the home for support, deflecting her questions about why they were there. But eventually they told her the news.

Hyde, 50, said she was surprised, because her son had told her the situation in Samarra was "fairly quiet."

"He always felt like he wasn't doing enough," she said.

Brian Hyde was in Sacramento at a conference when his father called him with news of Daniel's death. Someone at the conference drove him to Modesto on Saturday night. His daughter, Andrea, 21, drove to Modesto from San Francisco.

Hyde said he was expecting a few family members but was surprised to find dozens of friends and family at his home. They stayed until 2 a.m. offering support, condolences and stories.

"At school he was really popular," said friend Adam Aguilera, 23, who now lives in Washington state. "He had the athletics and the intelligence, but he was just so good toward people. Some people can have all that talent and just look down on people, but I never heard him say anything bad about anybody in our class. He just had a kindness about him."

Sunday morning, Hyde's church pastor played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in place of the service's opening hymn and project- ed a photograph of Daniel Hyde onto screens around the chancel.

Hyde played football, basketball and golf in high school, and was a member of at least two academic honor societies, maintaining a 4.20 GPA. He volunteered at Delta Blood Bank and worked at a golf course.

A high school teammate shared one story about how, coming into a huddle even 30 to 40 points behind, "Daniel would say, 'We can still get back into it!' " Brian Hyde said. "He was never a 'give up' type."

Frank Bispo was head football coach at Downey for 10 years. He coached Hyde, a quarterback, for two of those years.

"You don't coach too many kids like him. He was a good athlete, a good student, a good person. He had it all," Bispo said. "I have four daughters and there's very few young men I would want to marry them. But he's that kind of man."

Bispo said Sunday he had received many calls from former players wanting to know if the rumors of Hyde's death were true.

"He was a leader and it just goes with the territory that he had teammates that really cared about him," Bispo said. "He never had a bad moment, even through competition. He never displayed any kind of negative attribute ever."

He graduated from Downey in 2003 and West Point in 2007.

In 2002, Daniel Hyde was featured in The Bee's Teen Hall of Fame.

He was believed to be Downey's first two-term student body president. He said his parents were his biggest influence; that his biggest dislike was people who were undisciplined; and that his advice to kids was "not to accept mediocrity in any aspect of your life."

"I just have a desire to be a leader," Hyde told The Bee. "I really couldn't stand it to watch someone else do the job. It's hard for me not to be the one person people ask for help and depend on."

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.

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