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Army Spc. Mark J. Kasecky

Died May 16, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of McKees Rocks, Pa.; assigned to Battery C, 1st Battalion, 107th Field Artillery Regiment, Army National Guard, Oil City, Pa.; killed May 16 when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Karmah, Iraq.

Family says Pennsylvania soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

McKEES ROCKS, Pa. — A 20-year-old western Pennsylvania reservist was killed Saturday by a bomb in or near his vehicle, according to his family.

Pfc. Mark Kasecky, of Stowe Township, a National Guardsman, apparently was on patrol when a bomb blew up his Humvee, according to his mother, Emily Arnold. She said she learned of his death from a chaplain and Army sergeant.

Defense officials said Monday night they could not confirm the death.

Kasecky had joined the Army National Guard two years ago, his family said. He left for Iraq in January and was scheduled to come back on leave last month, but it was canceled as fighting intensified, his mother said.

About two months ago, Kasecky was hit during a battle, but his bulletproof vest stopped three bullets, and he sustained only lacerations and rib injuries, relatives said.

One of his sisters, Veronica Horton, of Wilkinsburg, said Kasecky found little time to call his family, but he had called her Friday night.

“He said, ‘It’s crazy over here.’ He said it was scary. He said he was doing OK, and he joked with my kids. He said he loved us all and missed us all,” Horton said. “I told him, ‘We miss you. Be careful. Keep your head up.”’

“How many more deaths will it take before they realize that it’s not worth it?” Horton said. “My brother wasn’t married and had no children. All we got are our memories. It’s not enough.”

Relatives described Kasecky as a jokester who liked to play football and basketball and as a devoted uncle to his 11 nieces and nephews.

A year ago, Kasecky sent his family pictures of himself in uniform, standing beside an American flag. “Hey, man, just thought you’d like a picture of a real, true American soldier boy!” he wrote on the back of one photograph.

He is survived by his mother, three sisters and two brothers.

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