PICO RIVERA — El Rancho High School officials Monday were mourning the death of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, a 2000 graduate of the high school and possibly the first alumnus to die in a war since Vietnam, officials said. Arthur A. Mora Jr., who was killed Wednesday, was a quiet student who apparently missed having his photo taken for his senior yearbook. “It’s sad and possibly our first loss in this war,” said El Rancho High Principal Julie Ellis. Mora, 23, a U.S. Army sergeant, was killed in Balad, Iraq, when the vehicle in which he was patrolling was hit by indirect fire, according to Martha Rudd,spokeswoman for the U.S. Army. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Mora, who was based at Fort Stewart, Ga., was a member of the Army’s 5th Squadron, 7th Calvary Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. He was patrolling with two other American soldiers, Army Spc. Russell H. Hahvi, 23, of Texas and Army Spc. Jose E. Rosario, 20, of St. Croix, who were also killed. Mora is the second soldier from the Whittier area to die this month. Pfc. Joseph Cruz, 22, of Whittier was killed Oct. 15 in Bagram, Afghanistan, from non-combat injuries he sustained in an accident. No other details about his death were released. Cruz had been back in Afghanistan about a month after a two-week leave when his family learned of his death. Cruz grew up in Whittier and graduated from Sierra Vista High School in 2001. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, based in Vicenza, Italy, shortly after graduation, his family said. Funeral services for Cruz are set for Wednesday. He will be buried in Texas, his family said. Three area soldiers have died since the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq — Mora, Cruz and U.S. Army Medic Paul Nakamura, 21, of Santa Fe Springs, who died in Iraq in June 2003 when his ambulance was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. As of Monday, the Defense Department’s Web site listed 1,991 U.S. Military deaths in Iraq since March 13, 2003. Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.orgWant local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!