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Army Staff Sgt. Darren J. Cunningham

Died September 30, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

40, of Groton, Mass.; assigned to the 89th Military Police Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; killed Sept. 30 when his unit came under mortar attack in Baghdad.

Soldier from Groton killed in Iraq

Associated Press

GROTON, Mass. — A soldier from Groton was killed in Iraq on Sept. 30, a day after he told his family he’d be returning home a month early, according to his family.

Darren Cunningham, 40, of Groton joined the Army at 18 and had served in the military ever since. He was a veteran of the first Gulf War in 1991.

“Darren died doing what he wanted to do,” said his sister, Kelly Sumpter. “This was his choice.”

The circumstances of Cunningham’s death were not immediately clear. He leaves a wife, a 12-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son.

Cunningham was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, before being deployed to Iraq. His sister, Tracy Cunningham-Hammond, told the Lowell Sun that her brother had called home on Wednesday to say he’d be coming home in November, a month earlier than scheduled.

Cunningham-Hammond described her brother as a well-liked “clown” who loved his job with the military.

“He was the family jokester,” she said. “Just a fun-loving kind of guy, but he was always concerned about other people and made sure everyone was OK.”

She said her brother stayed in touch with his old high school friends and even befriended his first wife’s new husband, who was serving with him in Iraq.

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