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Army Pfc. Richard W. Hafer

Died November 15, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of Cross Lanes, W.Va.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 15 when two 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq.

Pfc. Rick Hafer's love for his two half-sisters led him to join the Army, family members said. "His sisters were his whole life," said Sherry Barclay, his former stepmother, who raised him for much of his childhood. "He said when he left that he wanted to keep our home ground safe for them to live in." The 21-year-old was killed Nov. 15 when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Iraq. He lived in Nitro, W.Va., and was based at Fort Campbell, Ky. He is survived by his father, Richard Hafer. At 6-feet-5-inches and 275 pounds, Hafer was known for his "commanding presence," 1st Sgt. Perry Bunn said. Hafer was a star defensive lineman in his Laurel Valley, Pa., high school, but poor grades kept him from entering college to play football. He hoped joining the Army would enable him to pursue his college football dream. "He wanted to prove to everybody that he could be somebody," Barclay said.

— Associated Press

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