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Army Spc. Mary J. Jaenichen

Died May 9, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

20, of Temecula, Calif.; assigned to the Brigade Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died May 9 in Iskandariyah, Iraq, of a non-combat related injury.

Army Spc. Mary J. Jaenichen remembered

The Associated Press

Emily Ricci was part of the same ROTC program as Mary J. Jaenichen.

“She was the one who was always cheering everyone up,” Ricci said. “She was really small, but she had the biggest spirit.”

Jaenichen, 20, of Temecula, Calif., died May 9 in Iskandariyah of a non-combat-related injury. She was a 2006 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Stewart.

Her father — a Marine Corps master sergeant who retired after 23 years in the military — described the fallen soldier as a beautiful person inside and out.

“Mary Jane would go out of her way to help everybody,” Alfred Jaenichen said. “She would do anything for anybody.”

Her stepmother said the soldier surprised her family in March when she arrived home on leave. “She was so grown up,” Mini Jaenichen said. “She said after being in the military herself she finally really understood her father.”

She also is survived by her mother, Julieta Jaenichen.

“She definitely died doing what she loved,” Ricci said. “The last thing she said to a lot of us was that she wasn’t afraid to die for her country.”

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