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Army Sgt. Eliu A. Miersandoval

Died January 31, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

27, of San Clemente, Calif.; assigned to Company A, 4th Forward Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Division (Mech), Fort Hood, Texas; killed Jan. 31 when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in Kirkuk, Iraq.

Sgt. Eliu Miersandoval was known as a friendly young man who relished soccer and the saxophone and was eager to join the Army. He saw the military as a way to expand his horizons and travel, and enlisted after high school. "He was just awesome, always had his head on straight," said his cousin, Soledad McMillen, who played in the high school marching band with Miersandoval in San Clemente, Calif. Miersandoval, 27, was among three soldiers killed Jan. 31 when an improvised explosive device hit their vehicle near Kirkuk, Iraq. Stationed at Fort Hood, Texas,he is survived by his wife, Amanda, and year-old son, Adrian. Born in Durango, Mexico, Miersandoval could be counted on to come to McMillen's defense. She remembers a time when he stood up for her when she was picked on during marching band. "My friends went to tell my cousin. Let's just say the guy never bothered me again," she said. She recalled phoning Miersandoval just before he left for Iraq. "He said he was taking a bath, mellowing out with his son, that it would probably be his last bath for a long time," she said.

— Associated Press

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