BRIGANTINE, N.J. - A 22-year-old soldier from Brigantine who was based in North Carolina died in Iraq of injuries he received during a noncombat- related incident, the Department of Defense said yesterday.

Sgt. Sameer A.M. Rateb, who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, died Sunday at Forward Operating Base Summerall in Bayji, Iraq.

The Department of Defense said Rateb's death was under investigation.

Rateb, who joined the army in March 2004, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C.

"He joined the Army for all the right reasons," his father, Mohamed Rateb, told the Press of Atlantic City yesterday.

"He felt very strongly about what he was doing."

Rateb, who was on his second deployment to Iraq, had received the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Iraq Campaign Medal, among other awards.

According to his father, Rateb would have been on leave from Iraq as of Tuesday.

He is also survived by his mother, Erzsebet Howell; his wife, Tiffany Brooke Rateb; and a stepson, Jason. *