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Army Sgt. Michael A. Uvanni

Died October 1, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

27, of Rome, N.Y.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, New York Army National Guard, Morrisonville, N.Y.; killed Oct. 1 by a sniper as he was conducting combat operations in Samarra, Iraq.

Rome native becomes war casualty

Associated Press

ROME, N.Y. — El Chico’s Restaurant advertised itself as a place to go to escape war news. Now the restaurant has become a memorial scene adorned in bouquets, cards, candles and an American flag.

Sgt. Michael A. Uvanni, 27 — whose father helped operate El Chico’s — was killed Friday in Samarra, Iraq. He was conducting combat operations and was shot by a sniper, according to the Defense Department. Uvanni was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment based in Morrisonville.

A sign outside the Uvanni family restaurant Sunday read: “Out of respect to this American soldier, El Chico’s restaurant will be closed till further notice.”

Gary Uvanni, a cousin of the soldier, recalled him as “very outgoing, proud to serve his country.” He said the young man will be “very sorely missed. I will miss his smile. My heart goes out to his parents.”

Uvanni was the son of Kevin and Janet Uvanni.

A standout football player at Rome Free Academy, Uvanni loved motorcycles and four-wheeling, friends and family said.

“Michael was a very energetic individual,” said Tom Hoke, his former coach. “He was just a kid that really enjoyed life.”

Rome Mayor John Brown said the local VFW plans to collaborate with the city on a ceremony to honor Uvanni. Details of the ceremony are expected later this week.

He was deployed to Iraq just about five weeks ago, friends and family said.

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