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Second of three profiles on Slain Maryland Guardsmen: Bernard L. Ceo

At 23, Army Spc. Bernard L. Ceo had a focus and clarity to his life many of his elders would have envied. He fulfilled his dreams of military service and community work by being a reservist in the Maryland National Guard and teaching special needs students in Baltimore.

He was ready to settle down with his live-in girlfriend, whose children he was raising as his own. And those who worked with Ceo found him so thoughtful and introspective they half-expected his words to come from a much older soul, rather than someone with just over two decades under his belt.

So when they learned Sunday that he'd been killed, family members and friends saw his death not only as a loss of great potential, but of someone who was already teaching them a few lessons about living life. Ceo, Spc. Samuel M. Boswell, 20, of Elkridge, and Sgt. Brian R. Conner,

36, of Baltimore, were killed Oct. 14 in a convoy accident while serving in Iraq -- the first state guardsmen killed overseas since World War II.

Corye Ceo, 25, said the way his brother carried himself led people to believe that he was the senior of the two. "We would laugh and joke about that," he said.

Ceo was a natural teacher, said colleagues at the Kennedy Krieger High School Career and Technology Center, where he worked with students struggling with physical, behavioral and learning problems. He was usually going one-on-one with the center's most difficult and challenged children, which would have been exhausting for a veteran teacher, let alone a freshly recruited novice.

"He understood it was a very important task," said Aaron Parsons, a principal at the center who worked with Ceo. "He was, at a young age, a professional dealing with specialized and intense needs. Exceptional needs."

"He was good with kids," his brother recalled. "He said it was something he could do for a long time."

And sometimes at the center, as was the often the case in his own life, he was teaching students older than he was.

It was during this time that Ceo began pursuing a military career. He would speak with Parsons and program coordinator Vivian Price-Butler, both former Marines, about ways to serve and still work in hi

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