Operation Anaconda's first U.S. casualty was remembered as a loyal American and a loving family man as his body began its journey back home via Germany Tuesday.

Chief Warrant Officer Stanley L. Harriman, 34, of Wade, N.C., was killed by enemy fire in a ground attack Saturday. He was one of eight American soldiers killed and 11 wounded in the most ambitious ground assault so far in the war in Afghanistan.

Sheila Harriman, speaking Monday outside the family's home, said her husband "died a hero."

"Stanley died for you and you and you," she said, gesturing to a gathering of reporters, "and for your freedom. All Stanley ever wanted to do was be an American soldier."

Harriman was killed in a ground attack shortly after American forces, joined by Afghan and other allied troops, began the offensive against hundreds of Al Qaeda fighters near the town of Gardez. Harriman is the first member of the armed forces from North Carolina to be killed by enemy fire in the war in Afghanistan.

"He was a wonderful man ... He loved his work and his family so much," Harriman's sister-in-law Traci Lore said. "He died doing what he loved."

Harriman, a native of Nixa, Mo., was a career military man. He enlisted at the age of 18 and was stationed for 13 years at Fort Bragg. He and his wife had two children.

As their mother spoke to reporters, the couple's two children, daughter Darbi, 6, and son Stanley Christopher, 3, peered at reporters through a picture window at the front of the house. His father, Buzz Harriman, a retired Army major who flew helicopters during three tours of duty in the Vietnam War, was also there.

Harriman's identical twin brother, Steve, said that even though they come from a military family and know what to expect when a loved one goes to war, no one really expected this.

"He had been gone for so long that I don't even remember if I told him that I was proud of him and loved him. I hope he knows that," Steve Harriman said.

Stanley Harriman had been a member of the Army's elite Special Forces, known as Green Berets, for eight years. His unit, the 3rd Special Forces Group, is one of seven such groups, each specializing in teaching and training soldiers in certain parts of the world while developing an understanding of the people and culture. The 3rd Special Forces Group specializes in Africa.

Sheila Harriman said her husband went to Nigeria on a training mission shortly after Sept. 11 but returned to surprise her in December. The couple spent almost a week together, even though Stanley was suffering from malaria. Despite running a high fever, he returned to duty and was sent to Kuwait. He had been in Afghanistan for only a few weeks when he was killed.

Harriman had recently written an e-mail to Sheila and his two children saying how excited he was about taking part in the war on terrorism.

"He said 'Don't worry about me, the team and I will take care of each other and I will be home soon,"' Sheila Harriman said.

Family members said Army officials told them that Harriman's body is at a U.S. military base in Germany and will be flown Wednesday to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The Pentagon said the seven soldiers who died Monday were killed when two U.S. helicopters took enemy fire during the most deadly allied air and ground offensive of the war in Afghanistan.

In the U.S. assault, code-named Operation Anaconda, Americans took the lead instead of relying on Afghan forces to attack Al Qaeda.

In all, 40 U.S. soldiers have been wounded since the operation began Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.