Damian Baer thoroughly enjoyed opportunities to sing opera and tinker with both his Dodge Vipers, but most of all, he was committed to his military service, his brother Adrian said on Friday.


Baer, 37, a civilian contractor working at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, died on Sunday. The funeral service is scheduled at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church on Tuesday at 11 a.m.


He had served in the U.S. Army from 2006-11, including a tour in Baghdad, Iraq. Baer achieved the rank of sergeant, serving with the 2-1 Stryker Brigade in the Signal Corps.


“He was part of the last Stryker Brigade in the big troop withdrawal,” Patrick said. “The insurgence really had been ramped up, and Damian encountered a lot of enemy activity. He received several commendations for his bravery and service.”


His brother wanted to stay involved after his military service, Patrick said. Damian spent a year at Ft. Gordon in the intelligence field before taking a job with a private firm that did contract work at the Bagram base. He was working as a linguist at the time of his death.


“Damian was very proud to serve his country,” Patrick said. “He was a patriot.”


Before his sophomore year at South Aiken High School, Damian moved to the community with his parents, Ken and Debra Baer and his six siblings. At that time, he was already an accomplished vocalist and cellist and joined the Aiken Choral Society and the St. Mary choir.


Baer went on to the University of South Carolina, earning a bachelor’s degree in music and a Master of Music degree. He also reached the level of second-degree black belt.


“Damian was a well-rounded individual,” his brother said. “Everyone who met him loved him. He was active in bodybuilding and ran triathlons. He was passionate about cars and at 13, he bought a 1:64 scale model of a Dodge Viper and then bought his first car when he was 31. He always made goals for himself.”


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard’s education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.