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Army Spc. Michael G. Mihalakis

Died December 26, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

18, of San Jose, Calif.; assigned to the 270th Military Police Company, 49th Military Police Battalion, 100th Troop Command, California Combat Support Command, Army National Guard, based in Fairfield, Calif.; died of injuries sustained in a non-combat vehicle accident at the Baghdad International Airport, on Dec. 26, 2003, in Baghdad.

When Spc. Michael G. Mihalakis arrived in Iraq, fresh out of high school, he faced extreme adversity and poverty for the first time.

Patrolling the streets of Baghdad, he saw a different world from where he grew up in Milpitas, Calif., playing guitar in a rock band while in high school.

Mihalakis, 18, was off-duty when his Humvee overturned near Baghdad International Airport on Dec. 26. He was thrown from the vehicle and crushed to death.

After graduating from high school in 2002, he had moved to San Luis Obispo, Calif., to attend summer school at Cuesta Community College. He planned to study business but joined the National Guard before the fall term began. Mihalakis’ father said his son came home from Iraq after a car accident left his sister in a coma. When she began to recover, Mihalakis returned to Iraq. A sympathetic captain assigned him to the airport, Mihalakis’ father said, instead of his prior job patrolling Baghdad’s streets.

— Associated Press

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