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Army Pfc. Raymond J. Faulstich Jr.

Died August 5, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

24, of Leonardtown, Md.; assigned to the 89th Transportation Company, 6th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Group, Fort Eustis, Va.; killed Aug. 5 when his convoy was attacked by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Najaf, Iraq.

Raymond J. Faulstich Jr. dropped out of high school a month before graduation, trying to find himself while working low-wage jobs and eventually developing a drug habit. But he turned things around and joined the Army after deciding he wanted a life "with the girlfriend he loved," said his father, Raymond Sr. Faulstich, of Leonardtown, Md., died from wounds he received Aug. 5 when he was struck by a grenade during an ambush in Najaf, Iraq. Faulstich continued to drive under enemy fire, trying to get his comrades to safety, his father said. Faulstich, 24, married his girlfriend, Crystal Wathen, less than a year ago. He was based at Fort Eustis, Va. "I remember how happy and proud he was when he was able to stand on his own two feet. It seemed liked he grew up," Raymond Sr. said. The soldier last spoke to his parents at 4 a.m. on Aug. 2. "He apologized for calling so late," Raymond Sr. said. "We said it was OK, we'd rather be awakened than not hear from him."

— Associated Press

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