Friends of 1st Lt. Salvatore Corma II are still in disbelief that he's gone.

Corma is remembered by all who knew him in his youth as a "quiet leader" and a young man who never gave up on his dreams.

Corma, 24, an Army officer from Deptford Township, was killed in the line of duty at Forward Operating Base Bullard in Afghanistan on Thursday when insurgents attacked his unit using improvised explosive devices, according to the Department of Defense. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. He is the son of Sal and Trudy Corma of Wayne Court. The Corma family was not available for comment, but Corma's lifelong friend Robert Cahall addressed a small crowd outside the family home.

"Sal was my best and closest friend for 17 years and he was the most selfless and upstanding person I've ever known," said Cahall, 24. "He cared about protecting and leading his men more than anything else. When he was last home, he bought a whole pallet of Monster energy drinks for them and paid himself to have them shipped over."

Cahall said the loss he and Corma's family feel is "indescribable" and thanked the community for its support. He said the family is as upset as can be expected, but that they take some solace in knowing Corma died doing exactly what he wanted to do.

"I met Sal in second grade and we grew up and did a lot of things together," said Cahall. "I saw him last right before he flew back (in early April). He knew he was going into a dangerous area, but he was very brave and felt he could make the most difference there. He wanted to be on the front lines and he was incredibly committed. He would have done anything for anybody and saw the best in everyone."

Corma attended St. Margaret's Regional School in Woodbury Heights and then Saint Augustine College Preparatory School in Richland, where he graduated with honors in 2004. After graduation, he went on to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 2008.