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Army Pfc. Andrew N. Meari

Died November 1, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

21, of Plainfield, Ill.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Nov. 1 at Combat Outpost Senjaray, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Spc. Jonathan M. Curtis.

Parents of fallen buddy: Soldiers stopped suicide bomber, saved comrades

The Associated Press

BELMONT, Mass. — An infantryman was killed in Afghanistan protecting fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber, the man’s parents said Nov. 3.

Sgt. Jonathan M. Curtis, 24, of Belmont was killed along with Pfc. Andrew N. Meari, 21, of Plainfield, Ill., after an insurgent on a motorcycle attacked them in Kandahar on Nov. 1, according to the Defense Department and an Army spokesman in Afghanistan.

Curtis’ parents, Phil and Pamela Curtis, said Army officials told them their son and Meari were guarding the American entry to Combat Outpost Senjaray when they intercepted the insurgent, who was wired with explosives and trying to get inside. Instead, the man detonated his bomb, killing Curtis and Meari.

Curtis’ parents said his company commander, Capt. Nick Stout, called to tell them that their son saved seven lives.

“We’re obviously very proud of him, but that in no way diminishes the loss,” Philip Curtis said.

Curtis was assigned to 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. He is also survived by his wife, Samantha Curtis, and 7-month-old daughter, Tessa-Marie A. Curtis, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Pamela Curtis said her son became an infantryman — serving in Iraq before Afghanistan — not out of desire for combat, but because “to him, the infantry was the essence of what it meant to be a soldier.”

The time away from his wife and baby daughter had Curtis thinking about making this infantry tour his last, she said.

His parents said Curtis attended the special education program at Belmont High School but was a step behind socially and academically and eventually left the school, earning his diploma from a correspondence school. He joined the Army in 2004 and defied doubters by completing basic training, they said.

His parents want him to be remembered for who he was when he died. Philip Curtis said someone who knew his son in high school might not think he’d amount to much.

“If you looked at him now, you’d say he was an inspiration,” he said.

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