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Marine Sgt. Kirk Allen Straseskie

Died May 19, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

23, of Beaver Dam, Wis.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; drowned while attempting to rescue crewmembers of a Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter that went down in the Shatt al Hillah Canal in Iraq.

Kirk Straseskie was a third-generation military son who promised to make his father proud. He drowned May 19 after he jumped into an Iraqi canal to try to rescue victims of a helicopter crash. Four Marines on the Sea-Knight helicopter were killed when it crashed into the Shatt al Hillah canal, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

Mark Kirst, principal at Beaver Dam High School, said it was totally within Straseskie’s character to try to rescue the crew.

“He was always looking to help someone out. He was not a guy who would wait around for somebody else to do it. He was a doer.”

Straseskie graduated in 1998 from Beaver Dam High, where he played football, wrestled and ran the 400 meters in track. He wanted to make the military a career, but he met and fell in love with a woman from Juneau and was reconsidering that decision, said his father, John Straseskie

“He thought about going into law enforcement,” his father said. The elder Straseskie said both he and his father served in the Army. Another son, Ryan, is with the Wisconsin National Guard.

— Associated Press

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