UPDATE: There's a cached article that references a Staff Sergeant Robert Bales deployed in Afghanistan that seems to be about the same age.
It quotes him:
“How’s the security affecting your family?” Asked Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2-3 Inf., to a village elder relaxing outside of his home.
“Much better than yesterday,” replied the man.
UPDATE 6:22-- Pictures of the Staff Sergeant have been found here.