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Army Sgt. John M. Penich

Died October 16, 2008 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

25, of Beach Park, Ill.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Oct. 16 in Karangol Village, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from indirect fire.

Army Sgt. John M. Penich remembered

The Associated Press

After witnessing the 2001 terror attacks, John M. Penich told his family he wanted to serve his country. But his career took a detour managing a hotel, a banquet hall and then a nightclub before enlisting.

“He kind of ignored his calling and bounced around,” said his older brother, Jeff Penich. “But he had no regrets of joining the Army. It was a calling to him in 2001, and it didn’t catch up with him until later.”

Penich, 25, of Beach Park, Ill., died Oct. 16 in Karangol Village, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from indirect fire. He was a 2001 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood, Texas.

Penich enjoyed the outdoors, especially hunting, mountain biking, riding four-wheelers and Harleys, and playing paintball.

When sending care packages to him in Afghanistan, Jeff said his brother used to ask for things for his fellow soldiers.

“It was never ‘I would like this.’ Never, ‘I want this.’ It was always, ‘What can I get for my guys?’ He always put everyone before himself, including his country,” Jeff said.

Penich is survived by his mother, Kathy Garross; his stepfather, Mike Garross; his father, James Penich, and his stepmother, Diane Penich.

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