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Army Sgt. James D. Pirtle

Died May 1, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

21, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died May 1 near the village of Nishagam, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit. Also killed were Spc. Ryan C. King and Staff Sgt. William D. Vile.

Pirtle was latest in string of family military members

The Associated Press

James D. Pirtle graduated from high school in 2006 and immediately enlisted in the Army, despite his mother’s fears.

“Coming from a military family, I was very proud of him, but my first response was, ‘Why can’t you wait until it’s peace time?’ ” Patricia Pirtle said.

She said he was very patriotic and an enthusiastic soldier who quickly worked his way up to sergeant. In Afghanistan, he often volunteered for missions that he knew would be dangerous.

Pirtle, 21, of Colorado Springs, Colo., died May 1 when insurgents attacked his unit in Konar province. He was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

He was known to have a smile on his face, was a constant joker and was also the butt of many jokes. Once, teachers and students duct-taped him to a tree because he said it couldn’t be done.

“It took two full rolls,” said teacher Jan Songer. “We left him out there for a while.”

He also is survived by his father, James.

“He just wanted to be part of something bigger than himself,” said Andrew Thurn, one of his best friends. “He was OK dying if he was serving his country.”

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