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Army Sgt. Steven J. Christofferson

Died April 21, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Cudahy, Wis.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died April 21 in Bayji, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Army Sgt. Adam J. Kohlhaas.

Family confirms death of soldier in Iraq

By Dinesh Ramde

The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin soldier has died in Iraq, a family member said Tuesday, making the soldier the 89th serviceman from the state killed there since the war began in 2003.

Details remained sketchy about the death of Spc. Steven Christofferson, 20, of Cudahy. His aunt, Monique Nimphius, confirmed for The Associated Press that Christofferson had died but directed questions to his mother, Michelle Christofferson.

A female who answered the phone at Michelle Christofferson’s home said, “The family has no comment at this time. Thank you,” and hung up.

A military Web site that lists Army casualties did not have any information Tuesday on Christofferson’s death.

Christofferson was a 2006 graduate of Cudahy High School, where he was a member of the football, wrestling and track teams, Principal Chris Haeger said.

“He was a very cordial, approachable kid. He was very, very excited about the military, about the idea of committing himself to his country,” Haeger recalled. “It’s just really hard. It’s a very somber day at the high school.”

Neighbor Ryan Ohlendorf said Christofferson was like a big brother to him. The 16-year-old said he didn’t want to believe the news when the family told him Monday night his friend had been killed by a roadside bomb.

“I didn’t think it was real,” he said. “It was like I lost somebody that I loved.”

Christofferson was laid-back and a good sport, Ohlendorf said. He recalled the time last spring when the two were walking to a park, with Christofferson proudly sporting a T-shirt he’d been given after the Army recruited him.

“The T-shirt was way too big. He looked like he was walking with a dress on,” Ohlendorf said. “I was calling him a girl, and he was just laughing and kidding around.”

He paused, then added softly, “Good times.”

A number of friends left messages on Christofferson’s Facebook page Tuesday. One expressed pride in his military service and said he will be missed. Another called him a hero and expressed gratitude for his sacrifice to the country.

The news of Christofferson’s death came days before the funerals for two Marine reservists, both members of Milwaukee-based Fox Company.

Lance Cpl. Dean Opicka, 29, of Waukesha, and Cpl. Richard Nelson, 23, of Kenosha, were killed April 14 by a roadside bomb that also injured a third Marine.

Opicka’s funeral will be Thursday morning in Luxemburg, while Nelson will have his the same day in Kenosha.

Army Spc. Steven J. Christofferson remembered

The Associated Press

High school principal Christopher Haeger remembered encountering Steven J. Christofferson the day he enlisted in the Army.

“He was very, very excited,” Haeger said. “It wasn’t so much of an issue of getting this type of training or schooling, or money for school, but ‘I’m so excited to represent my country and fight for all the things that we hold valuable here.’”

Christofferson, 20, of Cudahy, Wis., was killed April 21 in Beiji when his vehicle struck an explosive. He was assigned to Fort Campbell.

Christofferson was a 2006 high school graduate who played football, wrestled and ran track. His mother served in the Air Force for 10 years, and his father is in the Army.

“I told him whatever he wanted to do, it was his decision,” said his mother, Michelle Christofferson. “A week after he graduated, he left.”

Andrew Wierzchowski admired his friend for the athletic ability he showed and the character he displayed among his friends.

“He didn’t give up,” Wierzchowski said. “If something wasn’t going right, he’d keep trying. If it was something he wanted, he wouldn’t give up.”

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