The war in Iraq hit home for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a former aide who also was a son of a war critic was killed while serving in Iraq.

Army 1st Lt. Andrew J. Bacevich, 27, served as a legislative aide to then-Gov. Mitt Romney in 2004, handling all bills sent to the governor's desk for review and signature.

Romney said Tuesday that he talked with Bacevich about his decision to enlist before he left the Massachusetts Statehouse.

"I got to know Andrew as a legislative aide in my office, and before he left we met and talked about his plans," Romney said in a statement. "He was driven by a desire to serve, first as part of our team and then as a member of the military. His loss is a deep personal loss for me and for all of those who knew him."

Bacevich was killed Sunday when an improvised explosive device exploded while he was on a combat patrol in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq, according to the Defense Department. The soldier had been assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

Bacevich was a 2003 graduate of Boston University. His father, Andrew, is a Boston University professor, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. The elder Bacevich has criticized President Bush's strategy and said the United States is mired in a war it cannot win through military might alone.

In a statement, Bacevich's family remembered him as a man of humor and handsome looks who had overcome the challenges childhood asthma to be an Army officer and a marathon runner.

"Andy was a born-leader who felt called to serve his country," the statement said. "Our family will miss him dearly and forever."