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Army Sgt. Joseph Minucci II

Died November 13, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

23, of Richeyville, Pa.; assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, Camp Ederle, Italy; killed Nov. 13 when an improvised explosive device exploded next to the bus on which he was riding in Samara, Iraq.

At 17, Sgt. Joseph Minucci II knew he wasn't headed to college, and the National Guard offered him some purpose in his life. "He told me the reason he did what he did was that he felt that he was keeping his family safe. He was not only protecting his country, but keeping us all safe," Marcella Minucci said. The 23-year-old soldier from Richeyville, Pa., was killed by an explosive Nov. 13 in Samara, Iraq. He was based at Camp Ederle, Italy, and is survived by his parents. Minucci was a high school varsity football player and a soccer co-captain when he joined the National Guard. About a year later, he enlisted in the Army, and he earned his paratrooper wings at Fort Campbell, Ky. "He was a proud soldier," Marcella Minucci said. "He was proud to be serving in Iraq."

— Associated Press

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