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Army Staff Sgt. Michael C. Ottolini

Died November 10, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

45, of Sebastopol, Calif.; assigned to the 579th Engineer Battalion, California Army National Guard, Petaluma, Calif.; killed Nov. 10 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his up-armored Humvee in Balad, Iraq.

California National Guard soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

PETALUMA, Calif. — Staff Sgt. Michael Ottolini spent more than half his life in the California National Guard, training for whatever task came his way.

Ottolini, who volunteered for duty in Iraq in March, was killed this week in a roadside explosion in Iraq.

“When the Guard units started to be called up, he was saying he wanted to go,” his brother, Jay Ottolini, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “This is what Mike trained for, for 26, 27 years. This is what our society had bestowed on him as an American citizen, to fight for right and justice. This was him.”

Ottolini, 45, of Sebastopol, died Wednesday when an improvised explosive device detonated as he traveled in a Humvee in Balad, Iraq, according to Lt. Jonathan Shiroma, chief of media relations for the California National Guard.

No other details of his death were available Thursday.

“His biggest satisfaction was out of doing whatever the Guard would do,” Jay Ottolini said. “The other thing was just a living to get by, but whenever the Guard called, he was gone. Didn’t matter what.”

Ottolini, a member of the California National Guard since 1979, was stationed at Camp Anaconda with other members of the 579th Engineer Battalion. Camp Anaconda is located 50 miles west of Baghdad.

Ottolini sent almost daily e-mails to his family and was frustrated with the lack of supplies, a severe injury to a close friend and the large number of young Iraqi victims of the war.

“Mike had no regrets being there, because he believed in what he was doing,” Jay Ottolini said. “Right or wrong he backed the American flag and took his orders.”

Michael Ottolini told his brother last Saturday that he had a hernia that needed to be operated on and he was planning to go to Germany for the surgery after one more mission. That was the last time they spoke.

Ottolini is survived by his parents; six siblings; two half sisters; his wife, Sharon; and his daughter, Stephanie Coleman, 29, and son, Darryl Ottolini, 28.

“War is never a happy thing. We all have our opinions why we’re there and whether we’re doing any damn good,” Jay Ottolini said. “You don’t have to back the war. You don’t have to back Bush, you don’t have to back Kerry, you don’t have to back anybody. But back the soldiers.”

Ottolini is the ninth casualty for the California National Guard, and the third for the 579th Engineer Battalion. Sgt. Patrick McCaffrey was killed June 22 along with 1st Lt. Andre Tyson, both members of the 579th, when the two were ambushed by insurgents near Balad.

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