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Army Sgt. Amanda N. Pinson

Died March 16, 2006 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

21, of St. Louis, Mo.; assigned to the 101st Military Intelligence Detachment, 501st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Mar. 16 when a mortar round detonated in Tikrit, Iraq. Also killed was Spc. Carlos M. Gonzalez.

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Lemay soldier remembered as “breath of fresh air”

LEMAY, Mo. — A Lemay soldier was remembered as “a breath of fresh air” during funeral services before she was buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

Army Sgt. Amanda Nicole Pinson and another soldier, Spc. Carlos M. Gonzalez, 22, of Middletown, N.Y., were killed March 16 by a mortar round near Tikrit, Iraq. They were both members of the 101st Military Intelligence Detachment of the 101st Airborne Division.

Pinson, 21, was a “model soldier” and “a breath of fresh air,” said Lt. Col. Lucinda Lane, who spoke at Saturday’s service.

Pinson enlisted in the Army after graduating in 2002 from Hancock Place High School, where she won several scholarships and was on the basketball and softball teams. She planned to attend college after her military service and become an FBI or CIA agent.

School district Superintendent Ed Stewart said she believed military service was the best means of helping others.

“After 31 years of teaching, there are certain children that come along that you see who already have purpose in their lives. She was one of those people,” said Gail Bowman, a retired teacher from Hancock Place Middle School.

Pinson’s parents, Chris Ehlen and Tony Pinson, received a posthumous Bronze Star and Purple Heart on her behalf. Her mother said she had talked her daughter out of enlisting once, but she was aware of the dangers and soon joined up anyway.

More than 75 flower arrangements were in the funeral home where the service was held, and a former classmate, Zachary Ford, 20, said most of the graduates from Hancock Place’s last eight classes attended the service.

State Rep. Patricia Yaeger, D-Lemay, told Pinson’s family, “The state of Missouri stands with you. We mourn with you.”

Dozens of people with flags lined the street outside the funeral home, among them Tom Schinsky, 63, of Sunset Hills.

Schinsky said he hadn’t known Pinson but wanted to show his support.

“It’s a real shame,” he said, with a catch in his voice. “A young girl dying for her country.”

— Associated Press

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Two soldiers with 101st Airborne killed in Iraq

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — The Army on Monday identified two soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division who were killed last week when a mortar exploded near them in Iraq.

Sgt. Amanda N. Pinson, 21, of St. Louis and Spc. Carlos M. Gonzalez, 22, of Middletown, N.Y. died March 16 in Tikrit, Iraq, the Army said.

Their deaths were announced last week but the soldiers’ identities were withheld until Monday so families could be notified.

Pinson, a signals intelligence analyst, entered the Army in July 2003 and arrived at Fort Campbell in March 2004. Survivors include her mother, Christina Ehlen, and father, Tony Pinson, both of St. Louis.

Gonzalez, a signal support systems specialist, entered the Army in May 2004 and arrived at Fort Campbell in January 2005. Survivors include his wife, Kristina, and 1-year-old daughter, Isabella, both of Clarksville, Tenn.; and his parents, Carlos and Anna Gonzalez of Middletown.

Pinson enlisted out of high school when she was 18, telling a newspaper columnist at the time that she thought the experience would help her grow — and that she was aware of the dangers involved.

“But I didn’t really think about it,” Pinson told St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Harry Levins in 2003. “I thought, ‘This is what I want to do — and I’m going to do it, no matter what.’ I tell everybody, ‘It just feels right.”’

Pinson’s mother told the Post-Dispatch that her daughter continued to believe she had made the right choice.

“She loved being in the Army and she loved doing her job,” Ehlen said. “She felt like her work saved American lives. That’s what she did.”

The two soldiers were among six from the 101st killed in four days last week. The Army has identified all but one.

The most soldiers from the division killed in a single day were 17 in November 2003.

Pinson and Gonzalez were assigned to the 101st Military Intelligence Detachment, 501st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Including Pinson and Gonzalez, 135 soldiers from Fort Campbell have been killed in the war in Iraq.

— Associated Press

First female Mo. soldier killed in Iraq honored

The Associated Press

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Fort Leonard Wood is honoring the first female soldier from Missouri who was killed in action in Iraq.

A building at the fort will be dedicated Thursday to Sgt. Amanda Pinson, who died in Iraq in 2006. A memorial plaque will also be unveiled.

The 21-year-old Pinson, of St. Louis, died when a mortar detonated near Tikrit, Iraq. She was a member of the 101st Military Intelligence Detachment of the 101st Airborne Division.

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