Military Times
Honor The Fallen
Honoring those who fought and died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn
Search Our Database


Bookmark and Share

Army Pfc. Min S. Choi

Died February 26, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of River Vale, N.J.; assigned to the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; killed Feb. 26 when an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on patrol in Abertha, Iraq. Also killed was Army Pvt. Landon S. Giles.

River Vale soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

RIVER VALE, N.J. — A 21-year-old soldier from this Bergen County community was killed Saturday when an explosive device detonated near his patrol in Abertha, Iraq, the Defense Department said Tuesday.

Pfc. Min Soo Choi died just one month after he was deployed, according to family members.

Choi, who was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry, had moved to River Vale with his family from South Korea about seven years ago.

Although he was not yet an American citizen, he told a neighbor, Donna LoPiccolo, “I’m just proud to serve.” His father, Jung Choi, said his son looked forward to becoming a citizen after completing his military service.

Choi was a 2003 graduate of Pascack Valley High School, where he played golf and soccer. School principal Barbara Sapienza described him as “a very well-respected young man.”

Choi was hoping to pursue a criminal justice degree and a career in the FBI, his father said.

N.J. soldier killed in Iraq gets posthumous U.S. citizenship

HILLSDALE, N.J. — A young Korean killed in Iraq last week was eulogized as an American hero Sunday for enlisting in the Army and selflessly serving his adopted country.

Army Pfc. Min Soo Choi, 21, was born in Seoul, South Korea, and had lived with his family in River Vale for the past seven years. He was killed Feb. 26 in an explosion in Abertha, Iraq, a month after he had arrived in the country.

On Sunday, more than 500 people packed Pascack Valley High School’s auditorium for an emotional, hour-long memorial service attended by Choi’s family, members of the military, politicians, high school friends and members of the Bergen County Korean-American community.

Choi graduated from the school in 2003 and played soccer and golf there.

A casket carrying Choi’s body and draped with an American flag was brought into the auditorium in a full military procession as bagpipes played softly in the background.

Inside, a dozen large floral arrangements filled the stage, many with sashes containing messages written in Korean.

Choi’s parents and sister sat in the front row, about 10 feet from the coffin as speaker after speaker presented them with awards, honors and accolades on their son’s behalf. His mother and sister wept softly as his father kept a supportive arm around his wife.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, lauded Choi’s “bravery and gallantry” before presenting his parents, Jong Dae and Jae Wha Choi, with posthumous citizenship for their son.

Although he was not yet an American citizen, Choi had told a neighbor, Donna LoPiccolo, “I’m just proud to serve.” Jong Dae Choi has said his son looked forward to becoming a citizen after completing his military service.

Lautenberg said 30,000 members of the U.S. military are not U.S. citizens and that Choi is the 58th non-citizen to die in Iraq fighting for the U.S.

Because the young soldier had talked of a career with the River Vale police, the town’s mayor, George Paschalis, presented Choi’s sister, Mirry, with an honorary police badge. Choi had attended John Jay college of Criminal Justice before joining the Army last February.

The family also was given customized dog tags inscribed with the words, “Fallen but never forgotten.”

Choi will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey ordered flags to be flown at half staff Sunday in Choi’s honor. Choi also received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and Combat Infantry Badge.

Ji Ha Lee, a family friend, said those who knew him struggled to understand his decision to enlist.

“This was not done on impulse,” she said. “He was an optimistic person who would never let anything hinder his way.”

Choi was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry. He is the 36th soldier with ties to New Jersey to die in Iraq.

— Associated Press

View By Year & Month

2002   2001

Military Times
© 2018 Sightline Media Group
Not A U.S. Government Publication