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Army Spc. Anthony O. Cardinal

Died December 25, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Muskegon, Mich.; assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; killed Dec. 25 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Baghdad.

Family: Fort Stewart soldier killed in Iraq

The Associated Press

MUSKEGON, Mich. — An Army specialist who grew up in Michigan has been killed in Iraq, less than two weeks before he was due home, his family said Dec. 25.

Tony Cardinal’s wife said two soldiers came to her door in Fort Stewart, Ga., on Christmas and told her he had died earlier in the day. His death had not been officially announced by the Pentagon on Dec. 25.

Cardinal, 20, graduated from Oakridge High School in Muskegon in 2003. His wife, Amber, graduated in 2004.

Amber Cardinal told The Muskegon Chronicle that she did not know the circumstances of her husband’s death.

She said her husband had told her recently that his anxiety was growing, as his Jan. 5 homecoming neared.

“He mentioned to me that he’s more afraid of dying now than ever, because he was so close to coming home,” she said.

Amber Cardinal said she last heard from her husband on Christmas Eve via e-mail. He wrote that he had two missions that day.

Tony Cardinal had spent nearly a year in Iraq and was to spend the rest of his two-year enlistment in Georgia.

“Amber and the kids meant the world to him,” Cardinal’s mother, Maria, said. “He always put them first. He was a wonderful husband and a good father.”

Amber Cardinal had recently moved to Fort Stewart with their two children, 19-month-old Mikel and 2-month-old Maylee. Her family lives in Michigan.

“I’m coming home as soon as possible. It’s too hard being here now,” she said.

Tony Cardinal joined the Army shortly before the arrival of the couple’s first baby because jobs were scarce in the Muskegon area, his wife said. He was in Iraq when the couple’s daughter was born in October.

“They brought a satellite phone to him so he could call me,” Amber Cardinal said, adding that her husband got to see the baby by Web cam, though never in person.

Amber Cardinal said her husband came to love the military and wanted to make a career out of it.

“He was really dedicated to his job,” she said. “He said they were getting things done over there.”

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